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How Mike Donovan Sold His 3-Year-Old Tech Blog For High 6 Figures

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How Mike Donovan Sold His 3-Year-Old Tech Blog For High 6 Figures

Mike Donovan returns to the Niche Pursuits podcast for an update on his site.

He was on the podcast about nine months ago in a popular episode in which he shared many cool insights on growing his first-ever niche site to $20k per month.

Soon after the site peaked at $46k per month before running into some unexpected issues we should all be aware of.

But he’s recently sold that site for high 6 figures and joins us to discuss all the ups and downs he experienced along the way.

From a Google penalty to a 7 figure offer falling through to forecasting the future of ad-focused niche sites in the age of AI, Mike has a lot of helpful experience and wisdom to share.

And how he’s managed to accomplish so much in just three years, it’s really an inspiring story.

Don’t miss it!

Topics Mike Donovan Covers

  • The success of his first site
  • His growth trajectory
  • The compounding nature of SEO
  • Why he sold his site
  • His thoughts on AI and the future of niche sites
  • Keeping on top of the numbers
  • Google Penalty
  • Potential dangers of link-building services
  • Disavow links
  • The impact of the penalty
  • Losing a 7 figure offer
  • SBA loan processes
  • Riding the emotional rollercoaster
  • Brand swapping
  • Creating a sustainable brand
  • Branching out into other platforms

This Episode is Sponsored by Search Intelligence & Nichesites.com

Watch The Interview

Read The Transcription

Jared: Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today we have a returning guest, Michael Donovan. Mike, how you doing? 

Mike: Hey, Jared. I’m doing great. Thanks.

Jared: Good to have you back. We had you on, uh, well, you know, we had to look it up before we got started about about nine months ago.

So, um, less than a year ago you came on and, um, the interview is a very popular one. It was about your growth of a website you had started about two years before that. And was, uh, at the time of recording, making about $20,000 a month. It was such a cool story. Um, obviously we want people to go back and if they haven’t heard that one, listen to it again.

It was a popular one, but if you could catch us up on who you are, uh, for those who who didn’t hear the episode, and maybe just let’s just do like a couple minute fly by of the first two years of this website because we’re gonna be talking about what’s been going on with it over the last nine months since that episode.

Mike: Yeah, sure. So I’ll try to summarize that hour, uh, episode in just a couple minutes, . But, um, yeah, the story. So I’m Michael Donovan. The story was in, uh, you know, is of this site that I just recently sold was the first site that I had started back in 20, early 2020. Um, and, you know, I’d never learned much about sel, didn’t know a lot about content sites, but just started publishing slowly.

First year, I think I published 45 post total and then slowly built into year two, more and more publishing, uh, on that site. But it was. A very slow burn. So it took about six months before I earned my first dollar with that site. Uh, and then flash forward to when you and I had that interview, that site was doing just under, I think $20,000 a month when you and I spoke, uh, which just, you know, far exceeded any expectations that I had had, uh, for that site.

It was monetized almost, uh, solely with display ads. There are some affiliate links in there, but I’d say 95% of it was display ads. Um, and I had done most of the writing on the site myself. So, you know, I have a nine to five job. Uh, I still have that same job. I’ve had that for, you know, the last three years or so, and then every time I get a free moment, uh, was working on, on that site.

So, uh, that was sort of the story that you and I talked about them, which was incredible. Uh, and then, you know, I got fortunate that the story got a little bit better towards the end, uh, and then excited to talk about that and some of the stuff that’s coming up. Yeah. Some 

Jared: of the things I remember from the interview that where they stuck out to me were, um, number one, Uh, it’s such a good story about how long SEO can take as a tactic, but then when it, when it works, uh, oftentimes it’s, it’s this exponential growth path.

Cuz I think I remember you saying, One year in, it was earning hardly anything. And then the pace at which it picked up revenue and page views towards the end, towards the last couple months before the interview, it was just skyrocketing. So that was a really cool thing. You also shared some very interesting tactics you were using to grow, and I won’t, you know, we, we don’t need to get in all those details about it, but man, definitely go back and listen.

Some of the tactics you shared to grow that site, um, were really fascinating. Interesting. So, 

Mike: um, yeah, I actually want to talk about one of those tactics and some of the changes. We can do that a little bit later, but I did bring up the chart because I, it’s right. The exponential part of it is, is, um, surprising and I think once you’re aware of it, you might stick with it longer, so.

Jared: Right. And that’s, that’s a good point. I think that’s the inspirational part of it, right? Like, you might be at month nine on your chart, and Right. Not aware of what’s coming. 

Mike: Right. So end of year one was 20,000 pages, but the month just before that, in November of year one was 11,000. So it doubled November to December and I was making $51.

Yes, that was year one. And then end of year two, so 12 months later, 350,000 pages and $17,000. And that was in one month. And that was in one month. And you and I spoke a couple months later, two or three months later, and it was making $20,000 a month, and then four months later, $46,000 a month. So, and then the trajectory, uh, went down from there, which we’ll get into, sort of what happened to the site and the sales cycles that I went through, uh, in selling the site.

But yeah, the trajectory of, you know, s e and the compound nature of it is just, um, you know, it’s hard to grasp until you’re in it. And then when you’re in it, you think it’s just gonna keep going forever. Uh, you think you really figured things out and then, you know, as I learned, I hadn’t, uh, and so anyways, but it is, it’s been, uh, a, a ride to say the least.

Jared: So you shared this story over at Niche Twins, which, um, which, uh, I was fascinated to learn about the story since the interview. Right? And as you alluded, the site has now been sold, but it certainly was not without ups and downs over along the, along that last nine months of the journey. And so, um, you, you, you did go into it on, in an email that you sent out to, to the people who follow you at Niche twins and I, that’s basically what we’re gonna be talking about today is we’re gonna start where we left off last time in the interview where the site was earning about $20,000.

Now maybe break the end to us, tell us what happened, give us the cliff notes and then we’ll just kind of the way we do on this podcast, we’ll start to unwind all the things along the way and then, um, you know, all the things you learned 

Mike: throughout. Yeah, so the Cliff notes, uh, ending is it’s sold for high six figures, which, you know, ultimately I was very happy with, although I had a seven figure deal fall through.

And so if I hadn’t had that seven figure deal at all, I probably would’ve just been ecstatic with the high six figure deal. But of course, you always compare things, but it was a, it was a great outcome in the end. Uh, but I’ll say to your point, like the first two years were kind of like the Goldilocks period for me in seo.

First year I had nothing to lose. Didn’t even know it was gonna be anything, but was working hard at it. Second year it was like, wow, this is really working. And then within, right after you and I finished our episode, the next four or five months, I feel like was a condensed, just hard lesson in what this business kind of is, right?

The real experience of this business, which many people had said to me and shared on Twitter and some lessons you just have to learn, uh, on your own to actually understand and get it. Uh, but yeah, it was, uh, it was a lifelong, uh, lesson in about four or five months I would say. . Yeah. You 

Jared: shared on the last interview actually, I asked you if you had any intentions of selling it.

Um, and at the time, I’m pretty sure you said you didn’t, I’m pretty sure you said, you know, you wanted to keep growing it and, and you did keep growing it. You, you what, what were the next couple months like, were you, were you, you know, what kind of caused the interest in you to stir, um, to sell the site?

Given that from all intents and purposes, the site was continuing to grow? 

Mike: Yeah, so there was a handful of reasons, but the biggest ones were I, you know, I, with this Twitter account and the following that I have in the community of people that you know, that you’re a part of as well, Jared, I had multiple people reach out to me and say, Hey, congratulations.

Based on that income report in August of 46,000 a month, they said, Hey, that’s a great milestone. Congratulations on that. Uh, but hey, have you considered selling and you want to be selling on the way up? You know what I mean? When things are going well. And at that time I even responded to them saying, you know, I’m not really that interested in it, but thanks for your, you know, feedback.

And we talked back and forth. Long story short, about a couple weeks later, uh, I decided just to reach out to Quiet Light. Um, so I used Quiet light ultimately to do the sale, but my thinking was, let me just get everything ready with them. You know, there’s a p and l, it’s a content site, so it’s pretty simple, but it’s a p and l.

They do, you know, a hundred question interview, you can change some or, uh, you know, a hundred questions as part of an interview that they give as the package for the sale. But my thinking was let’s get all of that information up to date and ready. And then month to month, I can just send my broker the updated information.

He can update it and I say List it, and it could, let’s, gets listed in two or three days versus the lead time that it took, which was one or two months. Mm-hmm. . So I still wasn’t thinking about selling it at that point. It was more being prepared. Um, and then what triggered me wanting to sell it was actually someone on Twitter, again, reaching out to me directly in my dms.

And they had done that two or three times before asking me to sell to them. And this third time they were pretty persistent. And I said, you know what? I actually have a broker now. I don’t actually know what this process is like. You know, here’s the broker’s contact information at, uh, quiet light, uh, and you guys connect.

And if this is real, you know, let’s have further conversations. And so that’s how the first sale conversations went and how that first, you know, even me really considering selling. What I, I mean, is it, 

Jared: is it just a number, like, because since the interview your site was making $20,000 a month, fast forward, not many months later, 3, 4, 5 months later, the site makes $46,000.

What causes you to even take the, the leap to list it? Was it, um, like, I don’t want to put words in your mouth or, or, or say the wrong thing, but was it a fear of what you might lose seeing all the updates that were happening throughout 2022? Was it a number you’re like, well now based on average multiples, I can get a certain number that I’ve always been looking for.

Was it a change in circumstances, uh, that you wanted to have the money for? You had a different use for the money. I’m just trying to kind of walk through some of the things that were going on in your mind. 

Mike: Yeah, there’s so, there’s so many. For me personally, and I think for a lot of people who end up selling, it’s not usually one.

So there’s the personal side and then there’s sort of the landscape of niche website side of it. So on the personal side, you know, we have another baby coming in about 27 days. You and I were talking about that before this, just before this, Jared. Uh, so, you know, enough said there, uh, that’s gonna be a big time commitment obviously when we have our son who’s 20 months old now as well.

So two kids. Uh, that was, that was a compelling enough reason to maybe think about selling this site as I am still working my nine to five job. 

Jared: Yeah. And a p a psa On that note, man, if you don’t have kids yet, it’s a lot easier to build websites on the side. Not that kids aren’t great, but it does make those late nights, early mornings a little harder.

Mike: I contest to that cause I started this site with without, without Declan. Uh, I continued it with him, but it was definitely more challenging. Yes. Uh, so that was a big reason. You know, maybe in parallel to that, having a second kid, the house we’re in now, we had talked about this during our last interview.

We are now pretty close to moving out of this house. Um, and so in order to buy the house that we want to move into, and we wanna rent the house that we’re in now, in order to make that happen, you know, cash on hand became more valuable to me than cash flow. Uh, and so this moment in my life, it may, maybe if it was in two years or three years, I would’ve valued the cash flow more.

Uh, but I wanted to put a sizable down payment, especially with where interest rates are now. I think they’re above 6%. Again, home prices are still really high. I’m in Massachusetts. I think the median home prices over half a million here. Uh, and so having cash on hand to make that work, uh, was, was important to me.

Those are some of the personal sides I think. You know, you mentioned algorithm updates. It has. I haven’t been in this space very long, but the updates feel the frequency, feel like it’s been ramped up to a hundred as of late, whether it’s core updates, spam updates, helpful content updates, link spam updates, some of them roll out simultaneously, back to back overlapping with each other.

Um, you know, in, in a weird way, I was writing this in my, in the newsletter. I’m gonna send this, uh, on Friday, but in a weird way, it’s like, you know, Google’s the dog walker and the search results, uh, and the search results are the dog, right? And Google has the dog on a leash. So in that way they’re in control, but the leash is getting longer and longer, and the play in which the dog can move around your search results is just getting wider and wider.

And that dog is easily excitable. You know what I mean? And this, so your search results, and that might not matter, right? If we were talking about your dog, but we’re talking about your rankings and your business. And so, you know, whether that’s a perfect analogy or not is besides the point. But I feel like just in my three years of being in this space, The volatility in the results has been pretty wild.

Um, and so that’s a real risk, I think, uh, it’s always been a risk, but I think it just, the risk became bigger over the last couple of months or even year. Uh, I would say. 

Jared: I’m glad to hear you addressed it. Um, only because that’s the first thing that tends to go through my mind, right? Like when I, when I think about having a site of that size, the first thing I think of is, oh my goodness, there’s so much to lose, right?

Like, tends to be, um, uh, a plateauing for bus, many businesses, uh, well outside of the online world, just business in general. Certainly I went through, uh, learning about this in the last business I owned where you think of a business from the outside that, um, you know, it gets easier and easier to grow. But actually what I learned from working with investors and working with other businesses that had grown and scaled over time is it actually gets harder and harder to grow because every time you want to grow that next to that next plateau, you have to risk losing more because the business has grown so much.

And so I, I can kind of feel. man, maybe at $20,000 a month. This is wonderful. At $46,000 a month, all of a sudden I have a lot more, I have a lot more to lose potentially. And then you have all these other life, um, uh, things happening and all these events that you could actually use that change of, of cash flow for.

So it’s, it’s really, it’s really good, you know, kind of hear, you walk through all the different 

Mike: facets. There’s a, there’s a few others I wanna cover. You just hit one of them, which is, you know, you have more to lose, I think when an asset like this becomes a certain percentage of your overall net worth or your overall family’s net worth.

You know, I think it minimally makes sense to consider de-risking or selling in some way. And so I think this matters less if you have, you know, 10 million in the bank, right, and you have an asset that’s worth 5 million if you lost that asset tomorrow. You know, that’s gonna be painful, but you’re, you still worth 10 million, right?

Whereas if you’re worth, say, 1 million and you have an asset that’s worth 500 or a million, and you lose that asset, that could really have improved your quality of life, right? Because now you’re at, you just have more money to play with, or more comfort, more financial stability. And so that definitely played a factor in the decision to sell as well.

Um, and then the, the final thing, which I don’t talk about much because I, I’m just kind of a little bit sick of hearing it, I’m very fascinated by it, but is ai. Um, and I, you know, I think it’s, you have to address it. You have to acknowledge that it’s real, it’s happening. The, the two things I think about is, you know, as in the traditional niche site model, when you’re going after low-hanging, you know, long-tail keywords, low-hanging, competi, low-hanging, In that traditional model, you’re now getting squeezed from both sides with ai.

On the one hand, you have Google and Bing with their, you know, chat bots, which are pushing you further down the SEARCHs, which they’re already pushing results further down. So now here’s another thing, pushing you down, stealing clicks. And then on the other hand, you have chat, G P T and content creators creating their own content, and they’re just easily able to spin up content or steal your content for better or worse, reword it, whatever it may be.

They’re increasing their throughput. So now you’re getting squeezed literally from both sides, from the search engines and from creators. And I just think the margin in the traditional niche site model is probably wearing thin. Like those days probably were numbered even when I started to some extent.

And who knows, I could be entirely wrong about this. It could last another decade. We, no, no one knows. This is all speculation. Mm-hmm. . Um, but I think you have to acknowledge that that’s a very real un not understood risk at the moment. We know, I think everyone agrees it’s gonna change search. No one knows exactly how it will.

And that risk feels like it’s a bit, you know, AI was there, but it wasn’t there at the level it has been in the last three months or so. So a lot 

Jared: of factors, a lot of factors played into this decision for you. Not One thing I wanna underscore is if you’re listening, you might not have a website making $46,000 a month.

You might, um, uh, uh, have a website making $4,000 a month or $400 a month, but a lot of the same principles that you just walked through apply no matter what the dollar figure is. It’s about evaluating the ROI of having the ongoing cash flow from the asset. It’s about evaluating what that would look like in your life to just have that cash upfront based on today’s multiples, um, ongoing risk with the way websites are being created, uh, taking money off the table, like these are concepts that apply no matter really what the value of the site is.

Although it probably does peak a bit when your site is growing at the rate that it was, uh, 

Mike: that it was growing , it becomes more prevalent. But I, and also just getting a win, right? Like getting a decent win Yes. Early on is so important. I, I’ve felt that I’m only a week removed from the sale and I, I’m not joking emotionally, physically, I have felt better.

Um, and I think it’s primarily because. Well, two things. One is it’s validating, which is nice, but it’s the financial stability part like we talked about, is huge. I think, you know, I don’t think this is the right way. I’m not a finance person, but, uh, I think in terms of like, how many years can I pay my mortgage if I stop working today, if I got hurt, God forbid, or something happened today, how many years of runway do I have of paying my mortgage?

Obviously there’s a lot of other bills and stuff that go into that, uh, but that’s what gives me personally, gives me peace of mind. Everyone has probably a different thing that gives them peace of mind, but this sale allowed me to lock in mentally a couple of years of runway, you know, call it five, six, seven years of like, God forbid something happened, we could pay our mortgage and be completely fine and live our life as is.

That’s important for me personally, just in terms of mental capacity and creativity and, and not feeling stress. Right. So by selling this, I basically freed up myself to do some other stuff that we’ll talk about a little later that I can take my time. There’s not this, you know, I don’t have pressure for this to work out.

I don’t need this to work out. I want it to, uh, and I want to do it, which is a big difference between what I did, which was for money. That was my primary driver on the first site. I wanted to make money. It wasn’t a passion, you know, it wasn’t like some aha moment. And so I think that’s important too, is getting a win early on.

So you, 

Jared: you go through the process of listing the site and, um, uh, was that fairly easy? Uh, a lot of people will talk, especially with their first or second site, about how, um, keeping accounting, keeping numbers, uh, having to backtrack and all that. What, what sort of things did you learn or maybe wish you had done a better job of, um, uh, when you listed that site, maybe a better job so that next time it, it makes it easier for you to, to, to sell a site.

Mike: Yeah, fortunately I had come across, uh, I think his name’s Joe Valley, the c e o or Founder of Quiet Light. He’s actually on, he had an interview with you, I think, Jared. He did, yeah. Tomorrow is great. Which was a great interview. And he wrote a book, the Exit Preneurs. Uh, so I have that book. I read that book, uh, and I’m glad I did.

I was already doing some of what was in there, but. If I can say one thing, if you have a site or a business just every month, keep your numbers. It’s a, it’s so no one likes doing it. It’s not fun. It’s a, it’s a, it feels like not productive, but when you come to sell it is, it just reduces the burden on you greatly.

So I would say actually I was in a pretty good spot, primarily with a content site. You’re dealing with just a p and l. So what were your, you know, earnings, which is, Zoic for me, display ads and Amazon Associates a little bit. And then what are your expenses? And for me, I did all the writing primarily on the site.

Uh, and so my expenses were hosting with cloud ways and, you know, a hundred dollars keyword research tool basically. So it was very simple and easy to update that. Uh, and so that was easy. The problem with what I did was there was a difference between which I didn’t like really think about cash versus accrual basis.

Uh, and so depending on, I don’t, I don’t want to even speak on that because I forget what we even decided to do in the end. But, um, but I was advised like, Hey, you gotta rework some of this because we wanted to do it on say, a cash basis versus accrue. I forget what we decided. Um, but it was great. It was easy.

They’re very, like the person I worked with, Chris, uh, Wazniak at Quiet Light, super experienced, I think he has 15 years in the business, sold a handful of content sites himself. Uh, so, you know, this actually sounds like an advertisement for them, but they really were, uh, helpful during that process. Uh, and so I would say overall it was.

Not that hard. Uh, the hard part is the emotional anguish that you go through. Mm-hmm. when you, I think it depends on the size of your deal, but because the first offer that I got was in the seven figures, it made sense to offer the site as s b a qualified that we would accept offers that needed to get s b a small business loan approval in order to acquire the site.

And so that could be a combination of cash plus that loan, however they wanna structure it. But as soon as you involve the SBA and some of the SBA people on Twitter will go, not seriously talk about it cause I’m not an expert in, in sba. Um, but as soon as you involve them, your timeline lengthens, uh, fairly significantly.

And so that for me, this first seven figure offer that I got, uh, at a bad time, which we’ll get into in a minute here, of getting hit by a Google update, like I got reached out to on Twitter to buy the site and I. I think it was 12 or 13 days after that af uh, DM and me introducing them to Chris at Quiet Light.

I think like 12 or 13 days later I got hit with a Google up, uh, penalty. Um, let’s 

Jared: talk about that. Yeah. Because I don’t think many people, and to be clear, there’s a distinction here between an algorithm update and losing rankings significantly, uh, in an algorithm update. There’s a difference between that and a Google penalty and you receiv.

I mean, the timing is crazy. You received a Google penalty, which is, uh, an email and a submission through Google Search Console that says, Hey, the, we’re Google and we’re actually telling you , why, why we’re penalizing your site, why the traffic, you know, is gonna be suffer as a result. Like, let’s talk about that.

Mike: Yeah, so the, I, I learned a lot. So hopefully someone can take away something from this and avoid some of the stuff I did. Although I still don’t know exactly what transpired. But the, the high level is I got a Google manual action. They call it our manual penalty, which means an actual human at Google looked at my site.

And the penalty specifically was for unnatural inbound links to some pages. The sum pages is important because there’s also another penalty, which affects the entire site, uh, regarding links. So this was some pages, although Google never told me which pages, so that wasn’t very helpful, . Um, and so that’s good.

Yeah, so that was tough. . Yeah, of course there was no information to help about what it was. Uh, but basically someone at Google looked at my site and said, something’s going on here. We can’t quite figure it out with the algorithm or with software. I think something’s going on here. So you have a penalty until you prove that you try to resolve it, which is, you know, kind of a tough situation to be in.

Um, and so I, a couple things. One is, In terms of link building, we had talked about this quite a bit. I had never done any what would be traditionally called link building of any form for over two and a half years on this site. Mm-hmm. in July of, uh, 2022, I was talking with a few people and I, it felt like my, the biggest risk to my site, whatever I convinced myself of this, was that my Dr or my authority of my site wasn’t that high.

It was like 25 and I wanted to improve that. And everyone I follow is like, you gotta build links, you gotta build links. And I was like, no, this is working for me. I don’t need it. Uh, and so eventually I, I reached out to a company called, you know, and this is, it is what it is, link builder.dot io. I paint.

They were expensive. It was like $3,000 a month and they assured me that they weren’t buying links, but that they would do outreach and try to get sites that made sense to get links. They did an eight link package for the first month. Long story short, I get that package back and those websites were horrible.

um, they were really bad sites and it was noticeable even to me. You go to, you know, ATFs, plug it in and you could see those sites drs you know, a normal trajectory of a healthy site. The DR grows over time, naturally getting links or however you’re doing it, but it looks like a gradual, and there might be some spikes in some falls, but there’s a trend, right?

These sites were like way up, way down way. So they clearly were playing with the manipulating the DR of these sites. And if you went to the websites, they were low, low quality sites. So I talked with their team, they removed all of those links within 20 days of them being on my site. So they put them on, I asked them to remove it, they gave me a full refund, that was in July, and then three months later I get this penalty.

And so I had reached out to a couple people in the community and I got very different opinions, which was interesting from people that really do this for a living. Like look at link audits. Um, and the one I found most compelling was that, It may have been that these links were toxic to begin with, which is red flag number one.

And then having them removed so quickly was like another red flag number two. So you’re almost giving two quick signals to Google of like, Hey, you know, and this is all speculation. Nobody knows. Uh, but that’s sort of a long explanation of the in depth that we went into. And I ended up hiring, um, this guy Chris at Penalty Hammer.

He’s great. I recommend him to anybody if they have an issue, penalty hammer.com. And he went in, did a link audit and did a disavow file of all the links that he thought were spammy. As your site grows, you naturally get spammy links. That’s just part of any website. He went in and took all of the websites he saw that looked spammy, disavowed them, uh, and it got, you know, four months of waiting to hear back from Google.

And luckily we got it removed, you know, We can talk about the second sale, but like two days after we officially listed it publicly, the penalty got removed. So, um, so there was a bad thing. Get him the penalty. It was great timing to get it removed because it, you know, it really sparked more interest in the people that were already interested, became more interested, right, because the penalty was gone.

Before 

Jared: we jump into the podcast, I wanted to let you know that today’s episode is sponsored by Search Intelligence. Here’s a short clip of Ferry from Search Intelligence showing you how their agency built digital PR links to a client’s website, hi 

Mike: tier back links in publications such as Daily Post MSN, bearing a mail, and many more.

Let me show you how we’ve done it. The campaign was pretty simple. We looked at the number of Instagram followers for each contestant in the Dancing on Ice show. That aired in January. We sorted the contestants by the most popular ones. Now we’ve had the most influential dancing on ice contestant. Then we’ve also used an Instagram earnings calculator to calculate how much every contestant could make from one post on Instagram based on the number of their followers and engagement rate.

Then we put these findings in an nice press release and an email, and we found the relevant journalist with a tool called Rox Hill, where we looked at journalists who covered the show in the past 30 days and sent the findings and the press release to these journalists, and then the links started landing like this and this and this, and many more.

I hope this inspires and shows you that you can build links with simple and basic campaigns. 

Jared: If you want similar link building PR campaigns for your website, head to search dash intelligence. Dot co.uk and get in touch with them now. So, A couple things there. I just wanna highlight it. We haven’t talked penalties much on the podcast, at least not recently.

Um, uh, if you wanna go all the way back in the archives, cause this podcast has been around for a very long time. I know. Um, Spencer has ha has had some conversations about it in, in past episodes many years ago. Um, so they don’t tell you what the, they don’t tell you which pages are affected. They don’t give you much information.

Um, you elected to really deep dive and evaluate what maybe could have caused the unnatural links. Um, you hadn’t done any link building. Uh, but, but you’re willing to admit that, hey, these links that you, um, that you had acquired were not what you would consider to be good links. Had ’em removed and then, um, and then, and then the penalty kind of hit a little bit later after.

Um, what are the things I, I mean, disavowing, so that, that, that’s a, that’s a bit of a dicey topic. You, you talk to 10 SEOs and five will say that, well, Google says that they ignore spammy links now that, um, that’s just not a factor. They just don’t give you any credit for them. And then five others will say, you know, you’ve gotta really manage your link profile and actively use the disavow file.

Um, you know, talk a bit more about how you decided to arrive there and how you isolated which links to go after. Given that across the board, it was only some of your pages that were affected. 

Mike: Yeah, those are all, you know, I’m certainly not an authority on this topic, which is why I paid, uh, you know, penalty hammer to handle it.

So I didn’t actually do the link audit. You know, the person I paid did do that. Um, I think the, the hard part with s e o in general, and that’s why there’s this old, you know, adage of, it depends, right? That’s the most annoying thing about s e o is like in large part, it depends, is is actually the correct answer.

I would love to know, you know, there’s gotta be a bazillion sites out there who are doing truly sketchy spammy link building tactics or just violating Google’s guidelines beyond eight measly links in three years that they got removed in 20 days. Right. Like, you know, boohoo me. But it just felt like, it just felt, um, like the wrong site to go after in my, in my opinion.

Uh, but no, so I, I paid, I was willing to pay for it cause I don’t have expertise in that area. Uh, they did a link audit, um, and he, it was a big file. I had like, you know, a lot of links that he said were low quality, that were pointing to certain pages and the website in general. Then you disavow them.

Google also wants to see you make an effort to reach out to webmasters. So they wanna see some communication. Like you actually go to the email on their about and you say, Hey, can you take this link down off your site? They want that effort. And so he did that for me as well. And then he puts together a little bit of a package of all those things, submits it to Google.

The problem with a penalty is it’s a black box. There’s no one you, you can’t call some assistant at Google and say, Hey, how’s the status of my, you know, my, my request? You’re just waiting. Uh, and I’ve heard, you know, stories of they hear back in a month, I’ve heard a couple weeks, I’ve heard six months in some cases before you ever even hear back from a Google.

Um, and so that was the hard part, was just wondering, is this gonna get lifted? A lot of times it takes two or three tries to get it lifted. So to get it lifted in the first try was huge. Um, and the timing of it worked out in the end. 

Jared: Yeah, it’s, uh, I, I mean, at my, my agency that I run for my day job, we’ve worked with several companies post, um, post, uh, uh, penalty.

And in one case it took, uh, 13 months with the back and forth to have a penalty. 

Mike: So, you know what I was feeling, sorry for myself. Four months is pretty good . 

Jared: So just so you know, I, uh, I wasn’t a part of the penalty recovery process, but we started doing work on the site after that and it was a 13 month process.

I could see, 

Mike: I feel bad for that webmaster. That’s, uh, that’s painful. Yeah. 

Jared: Um, so what effects did this have on traffic and earnings and are you able to determine the effects this specifically had versus maybe all the other things that just happened on to a site, on a, on a monthly basis? 

Mike: Yeah, it’s really difficult to determine, but I think it’s a common, I don’t think this was the one factor.

So just to give some context, the site really peaked. I’m looking at the chart of traffic in front of me here. So the site peaked at 780,000 pages in. Um, and then the next month it did 761. So it didn’t, you know, it just kind of leveled out at that point. And then October, when the penalty came, it still did 709,000, but the penalty came at the very end of October.

So before the penalty hit, the site was already plateauing in the 700,000 range for three months. Yep. Um, end of October, then traffic started to grind each month down. So October, November, December, January, the site dropped 50% between those four. There wasn’t a single day. You know, sometimes if you look at, you know, I look at competitors in my space all the time when I own the site and some of my competitors, you could see their traffic in a two day span drop 50%.

Um, and that was a clear, to me, that’s a clear indication, an algorithm update, right? Like clearly Google has changed the way they favor your website. You know, my site, if you look at the decline that happened over the course of four months, there’s no one or two day period where the site clearly got hit.

It just grinds. And of course if you look, depending on what scale you look at, it looks like a free fall. But if you look at it on a year period, it clearly is grinding lower over four months from August all the way actually to February. Um, and then when the penalty got lifted in early February, the immediately following the first week, it was up 15%.

Um, and I, you know, I had been doing a little bit of refreshing content on four or five pages. But I doubt that contributed to the 15% rebound. But it’s, this is where it’s hard to parse, uh, truly what it is. But, so I think the action certainly had an impact, but there’s also so many updates going on around, uh, link spam, right?

So if I had an unnatural inbound links, would it be crazy if the Google algorithm picked up on something and I got hit a little bit there? Could it be helpful content? Could it be certainly content that was very outdated? I hadn’t updated any of the content in large part of my site for three years, which I had tweeted that out.

And people in the industry are like, you know, how do people miss this? You have to refresh content. Uh, and I was getting great results doing that. I had articles that fell to eight and then update them and they’d bump, bounce back to position two and put in 24 hours. Uh, and so that was definitely a contributing factor.

But I think, you know, to answer your question, I think it’s multiple things that happened to the site. Um, and so yeah, I, I don’t think you can pinpoint and just blame it on, you know, a penalty from Google. I think it was probably a combination of those things. 

Jared: Interesting. Wow. Yeah, it’s so interesting. I think the one piece of data that, uh, really cements that opinion, right, is that the week after the penalty was, um, removed, your site traffic did bounce back, but not the full, say 50%.

Right? So there’s, uh, yeah, there’s some, there’s a lot of components Ha uh, having a play there . 

Mike: Yeah, for sure. And I’ve heard, you know, who, who knows, but I’ve heard people that have penalties in the past, traffic does not. Uh, immediately, regardless if it, if that was the determinant factor of why traffic fell, you would expect it to grind higher over a period of months, is what I’ve heard.

Not that it’s like some elastic rebound effect of like, you’re being suppressed and then the next day the suppression is released. Who knows? You know, I don’t know a lot more than that, but, um, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I’m excited, you know, the new person who bought the site, I’m really excited to see what they end up doing with it.

We ended up repricing it to reflect the reality of both the penalty and the current traffic situation. Site was still doing, um, in January, what the last month that I officially owned the site, it was doing, uh, a little over 355,000 pages still and was still earning five figures. I think it did around $13,000 in January, which in January, you know, ad rates are already suppressed greatly.

Uh, it’s one of the worst months of the year for ad rates, uh, for revenue. And so for it to still be doing five figures with traffic down significantly, there was still a valuable asset, just not at the original seven figure valuation that I had. So let’s reset a bit 

Jared: here cuz we’ve kind of navigated down a bunch of different topics, which is great.

That’s what, that’s what we’re here to do. But to give ourselves a reset on the timeline, the site peaked in traffic in August of 2022. We were looking at over 700,000 page views, uh, $46,000 a month. And then in the fall you listed it for sale. And basically simultaneously, um, uh, the, uh, the. Traffic started to drop probably, uh, partly as a result of a penalty and partly a result of aging content and maybe even some algorithm updates, uh, that you alluded to.

Um, now you had an accepted offer and that accepted offer came in before, but right before the penalty hit, what ended up happening with offer? Obviously at this point, we know it fell through, um, but you know, how did that offer, um, progress as these other factors we just went through were playing themselves out?

Yeah, 

Mike: so that was, that was hard. So it, to be clear, the site was not publicly listed, although, you know, it wasn’t on Quiet Lights website, it was someone reached out to me on Twitter. I had already reached out to Chris and they, we kind of back channeling because we’re like, we have a, you know, a bird in the hand, right?

They wanna buy the site. It was a, a good valu. And so that took place, you know, I said 12 or 13 days later, I get hit with the penalty, uh, manual action rather. Um, from Google, I reached out to the, uh, potential buyers immediately and let them know they were still interested. Again, the site was still doing fairly well, uh, in earning, you know, 30, between 30 and $40,000 a month.

Uh, so they were still very much interested, although concerned, uh, which naturally, you know, they would be. They pursued an sba, a loan, as I mentioned, for funding. Mm-hmm. Uh, and that process is just, it’s difficult because, you know, you’re getting very good terms typically with an SBA loan. Uh, but in order to get those terms, you know, you have to really prove, uh, that one, the business is worth it.

And two, that you can back up. You know, actually one of the benefits of an s b is that you typically don’t have to personally guarantee it, uh, which is a huge differentiator with typical loans, as I understand it. What happened was the first S B A loan that they got, the terms actually did require them to personally guarantee it, which they were not expecting and, and they were not comfortable with.

And so they went to another S B A loan, um, bank basically, and that bank took up their application so they didn’t have to start over. But it was definitely not ideal considering we, at that point, we were like three months or two months into the process. So they get the other S B A loan going. Those terms were actually fine.

They weren’t needing to, to personally guarantee the loan. And they got approved for the original seven figure amount, uh, to buy the site. Um, flash forward a little bit, it did feel like they understandably were dragging their feet because they wanted to see as traffic was grinding lower and lower. They wanted to buy time to see what was happening.

Uh, and I completely understand that. I actually took the initiative because they shared, I had asked a couple of questions like, Hey, what’s taking so long? I feel like we’re approved. Let’s move it along. You signed the letter of intent, they got the loan approved. We’re moving on to the asset purchase agreement to actually, you know, binding.

Say they’re gonna buy the site for this amount, and then you go to escrow and close. So we’re at the asset purchase agreement part. We’re sa sharing. I have my attorney involved. They have theirs, so we’re invested at this point, but they felt like they were taking a little while. They had shared their, uh, lender’s contact information and said, if you have any questions, reach out to them.

So I had called them, uh, in the morning and just said, Hey, you know, my name is Michael Donovan. They’re buying such and such site from me. You’re representing them. Can you just gimme an update on Malone, uh, how it’s going? And they were like, it’s great. We’re we’re approved. They’re good to go. Uh, and they wanted to wait another 30 days.

So at that point I kind of put a little pressure on them to say, Hey guys, either you want it or you don’t. I understand if you don’t. That kind of at that point that forced their hand of like, Hey, I’m so sorry to do this. We’re have, they were invested too, right? I mean, they had attorney fees, they had s b a loan fees that they can’t get back as part of the process as well.

Uh, and so it wasn’t a good situation for anybody. So I’m not faulting, you know, it was just a tough situation in general. Um, and so that was the story of the first one, but that took, I said that in about three minutes. That was three plus months of just like seeing my traffic decline and knowing that there’s this seven figure offer that’s there, but every day traffic is going further and further down, earnings are going further and further down.

And, you know, seven figures is a big deal, you know, to me, to my family, that that’s significant. Um, and so it just emotionally, it took the life out of me for, for that, you know, three month period basically. Well, I’m 

Jared: sorry it fell through. Uh, that is a, a double, a double effect, right? You’re like already having to deal with the challenges and emotional frustrations of having a site that’s going down.

You’ve got the penalty on top of it, which is weighing on you, and then you’ve got a deal that’s e elongating and taking forever. Um, deal fall, deal falls through and it collapses. You still have a penalty in place. You’ve got a site that’s. Declined in traffic by some 50% . We have a happy ending here. Yeah.

Uh, why don’t we start making our way towards the happy 

Mike: ending. Yeah. Yeah. So in the end, you know, this is all a fantastic outcome. We can summarize, you know, at the end what’s. What this little site did in three years, a little over three years. But, you know, so in the end, I was done with this website. There was just zero chance that I was spending.

Can’t imagine why at this point. Yeah. You know where I mentioned the baby’s coming the house, but then this experience was just pretty painful. But I still had a val, I still had a valuable asset. I mean, five figures a month. It’s still a great asset in that way. Uh, but it’s got a penalty. There’s uncertainty and there’s risk involved.

And so I talked with, uh, Chris, a quiet light. We reevaluated the sale. He, you know, is actually against his advice. He thought we could got, uh, get a bit of a higher price. Uh, I wanted to be done with it. And I also wanted, importantly, I wanted all cash buyers. I, I did not want an SBA loan to be an option or loans in general.

And so we landed on actually a high, uh, six figure amount as the sale. That ended up getting, even with the penalty, we got a ton of interest, um, in the site and then two or three days later, the penalty got lifted. And so that, I think for me, that’s what helped me close so quickly. I think we closed in two and a half weeks, um, from the, when the day that it was publicly listed to me selling.

Um, so that was huge to have the penalty listing cuz the people that were interested were now very interested because the penalty’s gone. You know, we had obviously disclosed all that in the public listing. Uh, so that was a big deal. And then what ended up happen, we got multiple offers above asking, which was fantastic.

And the ending offer was 15% above asking, uh, so it was high six figures, which again, I i, if you had told me that when I started this thing, just that alone would’ve been just a crazy success. Uh, and so I have to keep re like putting that in perspective, uh, having, you know, had the seven figure deal fall through between the sale and the earnings while I earned the site.

It was over seven figures in profit. Mm-hmm. , uh, and when I mostly, because you know, if you value my time, which I do, that’s probably not the true number, right? Cuz I did a lot of work on the site. Um, yep. And I, I wrote a lot on it, but the outcome, you know, for a site like that with 300 and I think when I officially sold, I’d written three 50, we deleted some posts, I think it was around 320 posts or so total on the site.

Um, you know, just a great, a great first experience. That’s the other thing is most times when you’re learning something, at least in my experience, there’s a cost, right? Mm-hmm. , maybe you make a dumb mistake and that costs you upfront, but then in the long term it pays off cuz you learn that thing, or it’s just time you’re learning and then you get to use that learning later.

In this case, I got to learn SEO and content sites for three years and it was super profitable. It was painful at certain points. Um, but, you know, I’ve. The history of a site, going up a site, going down, getting hit by a penalty, having a seven figure deal fall through, but experiencing the s b a loan and buying process from end to end and then having a cash deal go through.

Uh, and so great experience overall, uh, and in the end was, you know, a, a great outcome. I would never would’ve imagined it was that kind of outcome, uh, three years ago. There’s, so 

Jared: I’m hearing so many threads from all the different financial investment books and financial literacy books I’ve read over the years and, and your perspective on it I think is really valuable, especially as you alluded to in today’s ever-changing and pretty volatile, um, online world that we live in.

Like to expect a website to continuously climb over the course of three years and not have ups and downs, um, seems to be farfetched. Uh, it could happen, it probably does happen, but you probably went on the rollercoaster that a lot of people, uh, echo with, right? Like that they’ve kind of sy anonymize with that.

And, um, there’s an element that we don’t talk about much, which is balancing your emotions, um, as you go along the rollercoaster and, um, during the hard times, continuing to stay focused on, you know, ultimately what is best, right? And we see this with people, you know, talking about taking time away from a site for a while, uh, because it, it gets hit.

Um, just, you know, the emotional effects of it. It, it sounds like you really were able to maintain. Your perspective on it throughout is that I, I, I mean, any tips on that? Cause I mean, I’m not just seeing about the person trying to sell their site and they have the myriad of things that happened to you, but just the person who also emotionally gets super dele deflated from a, from a big algorithm hit, you know, kinda like 

Mike: you addressed earlier.

Yeah, I’m, I’m glad somehow it comes across that I was like completely stable during this whole time and, and, uh, confident. But no, I think, you know, it was hard. I thought things that I’m gonna start doing now, like I wasn’t eating great, I wasn’t working out like I typically do. Um, I did, I don’t think I did handle it all that well while it was happening.

Um, what I did do is stick with it, though I did not get deterred from seeing this thing through and making sure that there was an outcome and I also knew that I was done working on the site. The worst thing you could do is be done and just let that drag on and kind of half, you know, half commit to doing it cuz it’s just gonna die, right?

Like, it’ll die over time. And so I knew that I was done, which is important. Some people, you know, they kind of know or they, they can’t admit it to themselves. Maybe, maybe they’re really invested in the project. Uh, luckily for me, you know, again, this wasn’t a passion project, uh, for me. So it was easier I think on that end.

But yeah, I don’t think I handled it particularly well emotionally. Um, but you know, in the end, the outcome. Was great. And you know, now again, like I have this win under my belt in some time that it bought me, which is huge. And so now I can kind of reset but dur while it was happening, I think my wife will certainly contest that I was not the best person , uh, to be around just in general.

Jared: Fair enough. I was trying to give you a free softball there, but I appreciate that. I’m glad you told us the truth cuz that’s the reality for, for, for all of us at some point. This is a tough game, you know, and um, but it’s, it’s great to see a happy ending like you have. So, I mean, let’s talk a bit about, um, about what’s next for, you know, you and, and, and website.

Blame me. I I think that, I mean, I don’t know if you had ever started a second site or anything like that, I don’t think you had. Um, like where, where, where are you at now? What are we doing going forward? Yeah, 

Mike: so I, I actually did, uh, start a second site a while back. Um, and I’m glad you brought this up because it was built foundationally on this concept of brand swapping that you and I had talked about back then.

And to be clear, I, you know, I’m not a guru. I’ve never put myself out there as a guru, just sharing what I was doing that was working as I went. Um, you know, not that anyone knows exactly what works, what doesn’t. That was working. And so I shared it. I believe now, you know, it’s very hard to tell with all these updates, but I’m of the opinion now that it’s worth the effort to not use word for word.

And I need to update a couple things on our site and to share this more publicly. But this is a great opportunity to get in front of a lot of people that heard me say that. Then I just think, one, it’s not sh, it’s not a sure thing that duplicate content is necessarily an issue. But if you can take the effort to reword it so that it’s unique, it’s definitely not an issue.

Uh, and so just that alone, I think it’s worth rewriting it for the peace of mind of, you know, having my site traffic to climb the way it did. You could point to 10 million different reasons why that might have been. But in the back of my head, I was always thinking, a, a certain percentage of my articles were brand swapping, uh, articles, which were basically the high level for people that didn’t see it was you take a brand, you basically take another brand for the same topic and you use 60 or 70% of that content because they both, that content works for both those keywords.

And so you just reuse it. It’s still super helpful. It’s answers the question, but I’m of the mindset now that you should, you should take the effort to reword it, even if it is the same exact answer. Reword it, uh, from a unique standpoint. So long way of. I’m not gonna work on that site. I only put 30 articles on that site.

But it also, that site, which leads to what, what I’m doing, uh, next and I’m excited about that site was going after long tail keywords that were low competition, medium volume. I like we talked about, I think you’re getting squeezed if you follow that model. And that’s gonna be difficult going forward.

People are probably eyerolling that have been saying this forever. Uh, but you need more than one platform if you just rely on, and again, like I’ve heard this a million times, you have to learn lessons yourself sometimes go through it. Uh, but if you just rely on seo, I mean, man, that is a tough way to exist because you’re, you know, you’re basically on a one-legged stool.

And for a period of time there I was like juggling on that one-legged stool. I was comfortable, everything was great. And then someone comes along and bumps you a little bit and you realize all at once you’re on a one-legged stool, right? You’re just getting organic SEO traffic. And so for me you gotta, you know, newsletters.

Social, whether it’s YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, whatever it may be, um, you know, organic, obviously that’s another leg. Physical, digital products. You need this ability to have more than one income stream and more than one way to be seen online. Uh, and again, this is old news. People told it to me a million times, but I believe that strongly.

And so Niche Twins is a good example of what we’re trying to do. That was just almost easy because you and I had that interview, the Twitter account called a following. So right off the bat, social presence, you know, I’m the person behind that. We start niche twins. The website, we started getting, you know, doing income reports, so getting social traffic over to the site in that way.

I just spun up a newsletter. Then I’m, you know, I sent the first one last week. I’m gonna do it every Friday in the morning, weekly going forward. So that’s another way that we’re trying to get, you know, build a list. Keith is working hard on the SEO side of that site, so he’s going after keywords, but creating great content and adding YouTube videos to all the, all those things.

So you can see right off the. It’s already way more involved than anything I talked about on my first site. Um, and I think foundationally we started right off the gate with an interview with you in links from very reputable sources to niche twins like day one. And I’m not saying everyone can start a site that way, but that’s a good example of like building that swell of you’re a real person.

It’s a little bit slower, I think. Um, but you’re a real person, uh, and you’re backing that site and you become an authority in that space and then you can start to branch out in different ways, like I just discussed. I think that’s way it’s more durable in every sense of the word than just a niche site in the traditional sense.

Jared: Yeah, I was, you took the words right outta my mouth cuz my next question was gonna be, hey, looking back on three years and one site and seven figures of profit, what would you do differently? But it sounds like you know exactly what you would do differently and you’re already doing it on your next 

Mike: site.

So that’s niche twins and then that’s That’s right. That’s niche twins. Were doing that. And then my wife actually started a travel site, um, and she wrote. Four total articles. This was seven or eight months ago. She does a great job. It took her a while. Uh, content takes a long time. All unique photos, all, you know, unique perspective.

And those four articles are getting a thousand page views a month. Um, and, and the, we haven’t touched it since. It’s a great domain, it’s a great site in general. And so what I’m also gonna be working on that and really making that, you know, brand, whatever you want to call it. If your site isn’t a site that someone would genuinely share with someone else for any reason other than just finding you in Google, like then you’re not, I I just don’t think you’ll exist in the next 10 years.

Um, and that’s a hard thing that I I, if I just took a step back and said the site that I. Would anyone ever genuinely share? Maybe they’d share my content for sure, but would they share the website overall? And I think the, the hard answer was no. Now there’s ways to make it so that that’s the case. You might say like, well, do you feel bad about selling that?

Well, it’s kinda like a stock, right? Like I sell, cuz I think it’s going down, someone buys, they see a massive opportunity. So there’s, there’s always two sides. And I, who knows, I could be wrong, but there’s always opportunities to start with SEO and then build in these other facets. Um, but we’re gonna do that with that travel site as well.

And so I, I think the long summary here is, or the short summary of the long explanation there is, uh, what you, the goal now I think is slower and better. For longer. My goal early on was just make money quickly. Go after it, and I think people will still do that and kill it. There’s opportunities there. But for me, I’d rather put out a great piece of content that’s really, really great, has a lot of, you know, has a YouTube video, has a newsletter aspect, whatever it may be, and you really build something that’s great.

That will last. And that’s unique as well. That’s gonna last long term with all the chaos. I still think you’ll have a business. Um, if you do what I did to start, you know, I don’t know that that will get you what it did for me. I think there’s still time. Um, but again, we’re all speculating. I’m just talking about what I, what I think.

Right. Um, that’s 

Jared: great. Yeah, it’s great. Yeah. I mean, you know, the concept of brand is something that is being talked about probably more so now than ever before in this space. And, um, you know, uh, obviously a brand is something really big. But, um, I know you were referenced a couple weeks ago, or a couple months ago now when Kevin Oftu came on.

Um, the king of brand building himself, frankly, I mean, the brand, incredible. He’s built over at Epic. Gardening is fantastic. And he’s talked about this approach. Um, and, you know, you had a great, uh, seven figure, uh, you know, not exit, but seven figures of profit over the, the course of this, this asset you built.

But Kevin’s earning, you know, that, uh, you know, I don’t remember on a monthly basis, right? He’s built a brand. That does all those things. So I think it’s interesting to hear you talk about it almost in reverse, um, because, uh, you know, you get to a level that is very difficult and most people never see.

And then we talk about the effects of a brand and where it can take you well beyond that level. You even got with this website, you, you currently just sold. 

Mike: Yeah, exa actually ke I’m glad you brought up Kevin. Uh, Kevin’s great by the way. What he’s built with epic gardening is, uh, I think most people in our space look up to him.

If you’re not, you, you kind of, you should be. Um, and just a quick story. So we dmd we just crawled on Twitter, you know, started DMing each other and at the end of this long conversation, I’ve never met him before, never talked to him. He just sends me a cell phone number and says, you know, if you need anything, let me know.

So he’s just a, I think he’s a genuine nice guy. Um, so he made a comment on his interview with you talking about my site, uh, which I agreed. So I wanna just comment on that and we can probably end there. Um, but, so he made a couple comments. One, which was I completely agree with is, If you shine a light on a business and that poses a risk to the business, you know, what do you really have?

Like, is that a business? And when I hear that, I instantly think, yes, of course I agree with that sentiment completely. Um, but I would argue that for him, he built epic gardening early on, right? And it was going after, for his words, s e o traffic lo like keywords. He was built a blog. That blog made a hundred dollars a month, then a thousand, then a couple thousand.

If he had the audience that he has now. I wonder if he would feel comfortable sharing what he was doing then at that stage, at that phase in his growth. Um, I think that’s the distinguishing part. I agree. Your goal should always be to get to a point where you are comfortable saying, here’s my website, here’s my business.

Right. But I do still believe that there’s a period of time where you’re incredibly vulnerable, especially with the, the ability I, and I’ve experienced it firsthand, so I know for a fact people can steal your content, spin it slightly, and outrank you. That happens all the time. And so I just don’t know that there’s too much of a benefit at the early phase to outing yourself or outing your site at some point.

It becomes very beneficial in my opinion. Now Kevin has his physical products make up the majority of his business. He’s buying businesses now. So he’s at a stage in his career, his business where giving his name is only a benefit to his brand. Um, but I think early on, you know, I’m sure I’d be interested to hear people’s opinion on that, but when you’re just trying to start with just s e o and then you wanna evolve it into a newsletter and then something else, I think you hit a point where you become comfortable sharing it.

But until then, it’s hard enough in this game on the internet to get traction. Why would you invite competition if you have an audience? I’m not talking about telling your two friends about your website. I’m talking about a targeted audience that are interested in what you’re doing. Um, you know, maybe they’ll come after that opportunity that you just showed them.

It’s a little bit like saying, I found gold over here. It’s working. The a the ad rates are great. You stay, you stay over there. Anonymous person, you know, and I’ll just continue collecting this. Uh, that’s how I think about it. I’d be interested in what other people think. But, uh, anyways, Kevin’s what he’s built is incredible and I agree.

Your goal should be, you know, here’s my business and say it publicly. Truly the benefits 

Jared: of building a brand. I mean, when you get to a point where’re almost flipping on its head, you get to a point where you really don’t care either way because your brand is, you know, I, I don’t wanna use the word bulletproof, but certainly can handle quite a bit, whatever the case 

Mike: may be, good luck going after epic gardening.

I would just say that , 

Jared: I’m not starting a gardening website anytime. You don’t tell you that much. . Um, well, hey Mike, this is, uh, I can’t believe an hour flew by so fast. I mean, what a, um, what a crazy story , but what a, uh, what a successful story in the end. And I, I think that that’s the perspective I would have as well is, um, if you only, you know, choose to focus on, you know, really, uh, a seemingly short downward period in an otherwise very successful three year trajectory you created with this website, if you only chose to focus on that, uh, sure you could, but really the step back approach that you’re taking.

Is that this is such a big win for you. And I think, again, just continuing the inspiration that your first podcast episode carried, I if you, I said at the beginning, but if you, if you didn’t listen to Mike’s first interview, it’s a great deep dive into the first couple years of growing a website. Not only the tactics of how you did it, but also a lot of the, um, the, the, the inspiration behind sticking, sticking through it.

And then now we get to cap it with this interview here and the culmination of it. So, uh, I just, congratulations, man. What a big success and so excited to see what you have coming, um, over the next, uh, next phase of your, uh, your, your online business here. 

Mike: Yeah, thanks Jared. And thanks. Uh, that interview is really, if I hadn’t started, I started the Twitter account because I knew I was getting an interview with you and that’s what started this whole niche twin thing in the first place.

So thanks to you, thanks to Spencer, uh, has been great. And again, even a week removed, I don’t know that I would, you know, I’d take the money, the, the delta of the, the seven figure sale and what I sold it for, but genuinely, I don’t think I would change much. I mean, I’ve experienced a lot and that experience is worth something.

Uh, and so, you know, great outcome, I’m happy about it. Uh, and, uh, you know, if people, uh, want to learn or just hear more about that process, I’m gonna be writing about that sale process in more depth. Um, and you know, cause I have a lot of emails that went into that sale process. So I wanna kind of break it down into phases of the sale process.

So when you, when you sell a content site with an SBA loan with cash only, what that looks like, uh, that’s one example. But, uh, niche Twin’s newsletter is something I’m gonna focus on weekly, on, uh, uh, Friday mornings is the goal. 

Jared: That’s where I first, um, kind of got introduced to the, the whole process that you’ve gone through this last couple months.

Um, I know on Twitter you’re at, you’re at Niche Twins. Um, what’s the website? People can get signed up if they wanna get your email newsletter. 

Mike: Yeah, the, uh, the website is niche twins.com and then my Twitter account is niche down and Keith’s is, uh, patient publish. Ah, 

Jared: good. I’m glad you corrected me. No worries.

It’s been a while since I blew a Twitter handle, but I do it everyone every now and then again. So it’s, um, at Niche Down. And, uh, obviously we’ve got your niche twins, niche twins, however you wanna say it.com. , you 

Mike: just, you just angered everybody by saying it both ways. , I, I tried to, I, you 

Jared: know, Hey, I gotta place Switzer in here.

I’m the host. All right. It’s up to you to have strong opinions. I’m just the host. I gotta play both sides, . 

Mike: Fair 

Jared: enough. Hey, Mike, thanks so much. Um, yeah, until we talk again, really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story. What a wonderful one. And congratulations again.

Mike: Thank you so much, Jared. I appreciate it.



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What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Every U.S. State: Report

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What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Every U.S. State: Report

Sometimes, it’s not just about finding a job that pays well, it’s all about location.

A new report from Career.io shows that compensation for the same job can vary from state to state, so where a job is located can really matter, especially if you’re trying to maximize your earnings.

The report matches pay to location by figuring out which jobs yield the highest average salary in each state compared to the national average.

The result is a map of the jobs with the highest earning potential specific to every U.S. state.

Credit: Career.io

The map shows the professions in each state with the highest differences between the average statewide salary and the national average pay.

Related: These Jobs Have the Highest Entry-Level Salaries

Every state has a minimum of one job that pays at least 25% more than the national average.

In midwestern states, such as Minnesota and Indiana, medical professionals make more than they would in other parts of the country.

Physicians take home 38.63% more pay in Indiana, and dermatologists make 56.98% more in Minnesota than either profession makes on average in the U.S.

Related: College Graduates Make the Most Money in These U.S. States

Three states have jobs in business and finance that pay more than 50% more than the national average.

Alaska pays personal financial advisors 66.69% more, Nebraska pays credit counselors 59.46% more, and New York pays credit analysts 50.98% more than the U.S. average overall for those occupations.

1716944163 691 What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Every US StateCredit: Career.io

Here are the highest-paying jobs in some of the most populated U.S. states and how much more (%) each job pays than the national average.

1. California

Craft artists: 89.06%

2. Florida

Quarry rock splitters: 42.40%

3. New York

Crane and tower operators: 109.03%

4. Pennsylvania

Iron and rebar workers: 65.30%

5. Illinois

Hoist and winch operators: 71.79%

6. Ohio

Mathematical science occupations: 40.46%

7. Georgia

Cloak room attendants: 52.49%

8. North Carolina

Healthcare practitioners and all other technical workers: 34.49%

9. Michigan

Plant and system operators: 63.48%

10. New Jersey

Floor layers: 90.03%

Click here for the full list.

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5 Types of Content That Will Attract Ready-to-Buy Prospects

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5 Types of Content That Will Attract Ready-to-Buy Prospects

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

They say that content is king — but not all digital content is created equal. While most digital content can help increase awareness for your brand, the most valuable content is designed to draw in warm prospects who are ready to make a purchase from you.

Of course, even the best content isn’t likely to result in a purchase on the first exposure. The marketing rule of seven indicates that consumers must be exposed to your messaging at least seven times on average before they decide to make a purchase. While this may often be the case, strong digital content will go a long way in lowering this total.

Related: 5 Digital Content Types Prospective Buyers Love to Engage With Online

1. Email campaigns

Email marketing remains one of the most effective methods for communicating with warm leads and staying in touch with existing customers to ensure they will buy from you again. Not only are emails far more likely to be read than other types of content, but their average return on investment towers over other options.

According to the HubSpot Blog, most marketers see an average open rate of 46-50% and a clickthrough rate of 2.6-3% — numbers that far outpace the engagement levels of social media and other popular forms of content.

Even if they are mostly comprised of previous customers, email lists are an essential marketing tool because they are made up of people who agreed to receive additional messaging from you. This fact alone already makes them far more qualified leads than someone who randomly stumbles across your blog.

2. Personal engagement on social media

While the overall engagement and reach of many social media platforms have declined, there is still much to be said for the potential these platforms offer for fostering one-on-one engagements with your warmest leads.

When marketers comment strategically on other people’s posts, actively participate in relevant groups and conversations, and respond to the comments and messages they receive, it helps create a meaningful dialogue with their target audience.

By pairing this personalized engagement with relevant, authoritative content (including videos, polls and more), you can leverage social media to nurture warm leads.

3. Cost calculators

Most companies have at least some kind of on-site content marketing strategy, which usually revolves around blogging. A blog can be undeniably beneficial for building SEO and domain authority, but depending on the type of content you create, it isn’t always going to create warm leads.

However, if your website content focuses on the customers who are ready to buy now, you can greatly increase your own sales potential — and one of the best ways to do this is with a cost calculator.

From calculating the cost of shipping a car across the country to determining how much it would cost to build your own website, these tools are inherently targeted at warm leads who are ready to make a buying decision. In this case, providing useful budgeting and planning information directly influences the user’s purchasing decision, providing a powerful way of reaching warm leads.

Related: 4 Steps to Writing Content That Converts

4. Webinars

Webinars have become an increasingly popular digital content option, and for good reason. When webinars are promoted to the right audience, they can become far more engaging and attractive to warm leads than a blog post covering the same topic would be.

The simple fact of displaying content in an audiovisual format helps make the webinar feel like an event in its own right. With an engaging topic and professional presenters, you can build a large audience. And when the topic of the webinar itself ties into your offerings, you can create a natural segue into how you can help viewers solve their most pressing problems.

Webinars can be even more effective when paired with other content, such as an e-book or follow-up video lessons. When done right, webinars can be an excellent resource for collecting email addresses and other information from warm leads who are most likely to be interested in your services.

5. Software demos

Admittedly, this digital content option doesn’t apply to every industry. However, there is a wide range of companies that offer software services, addressing everything from tracking logistics and customer relationships to managing the back end of a website.

A software demo gives warm leads the opportunity to try the service before they commit to a purchase. Firsthand interaction and experience with the software is ultimately far more convincing than a series of sales calls could ever be, as this helps buyers clearly determine whether or not a particular product works for them.

It should be no surprise, then, that opt-out free trials see an incredible 48.8% conversion rate. It’s worth noting, too, that companies that don’t sell software can use similar “trial” options, such as a two-week trial for their services. Trials and demos appeal to the warmest buyers, who often use them to finalize their purchase decision.

Related: 5 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Drives Business Results

While regularly updating a blog or social media profile can be useful as part of your content marketing strategy, it is essential that brands in every niche focus on the types of content that are poised to deliver the greatest return.

By focusing on the types of content that are most likely to capture warm prospects in the first place, you can turn more leads into sales and maximize the success of your content strategy.

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Broaden Your Horizons by Learning to Play the Piano with Skoove

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Broaden Your Horizons by Learning to Play the Piano with Skoove

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Running a business can be all-consuming. However, business people who only talk about work can sometimes struggle to network and socialize, ironically stunting their potential for growth as salespeople and entrepreneurs. That’s why taking up a hobby and developing a skill that might not relate directly to your work can help your company and career.

For a Memorial Day sale running through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to Skoove Premium Piano Lessons for only $119.99 (reg. $1,198). Rated 4.5/5 stars on the App Store, this platform is designed to help users develop their piano skills with interactive lessons powered by artificial intelligence.

Skoove uses cutting-edge AI technology that can recognize notes as you play them and then offer adjustments and notes in real time. With this approach, the platform can teach you a wide range of chart-topping songs with over 400 lessons and thousands of instructional videos. With the subscription, you can study tracks by artists ranging from the Beatles to Bach.

Skoove is also convenient to use and practice with. It’s compatible with all pianos and keyboards, including USB/MIDI and acoustic ones. It also works with both iOS and Android operating systems on tablets, smartphones, and computers. To broaden your horizons, consider adding it to your life today.

Remember that during a special Memorial Day sale that runs through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to Skoove Premium Piano Lessons for only $119.99 (reg. $1,198) with code ENJOY20 at checkout.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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