“Blogs and niche websites, specifically, are a great way to build financial freedom and family wealth. It doesn’t take much to get writing, though it takes a lot to produce great content.”
published: June 11, 2022
1. Where do you live?
Right now, I live in Bulgaria. A quaint, uneventful country, which, considering everything going on in the world lately, has been a great place to be. But it’s time for a change. So the wife, who’s a full-time content creator, and I are moving to Barcelona, Spain, this summer. It’s exciting and scary at the same time =)
2. When did you start creating content?
Oh, man, that was forever ago… When I was in school, maybe 2004-2005, I was very active on the forum of this site about Microsoft Windows. I became a moderator, then a news contributor, then a news editor… all for free!
Then, in 2006-2007, I came across Eben Pagan, John Chow, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, and Brian Clark of Copyblogger. These names don’t mean much to many in the niche website business today, I’ll tell you that, but they were the O.G. influencers and marketers of that time—long before it became a thing.
So, in August 2007, I started a blog. I wrote about online business, productivity, and life hacks. For a while, before I stopped posting on it, its RSS feed was on Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop.com, right next to Lifehacker. I’ve built many blogs since, and yet I always remember the first one!
Good times; it was easier to build businesses online back then. Monetization options were sparse, though. It was mostly affiliate programs, Google AdSense, an AdSense alternative called Bidvertiser, and the early version of what is now known as Outbrain.
3. Are you a full-time Creator?
Not right now. I have a portfolio of sites and a team of freelancers and agencies that run them, and I also have a career.
4. What was the “Click” that made you decide you can make full-time money online?
What I like about online businesses is that if you build them in a certain way, they’re like building digital real estate. You can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you wish, and you can grow the revenue as well as the value of the assets either way.
Blogs and niche websites, specifically, are a great way to build financial freedom and family wealth. It doesn’t take much to get writing, though it takes a lot to produce great content.
5. How many niche sites have you created?
Thirty-ish. But half of them I created many years ago, in 2010-2015, when I built (and later sold) an online media company. Quite a few are still live today.
6. How many are you still running now?
7. Have you sold any sites or online businesses? And what was the ROI like?
A whole company on the Bulgarian-language web, as a matter of fact. It had a big portfolio, with news sites, YouTube channels, and even shows in partnerships with TV stations. The ROI was crazy, both in terms of the things I learned, the money I made, and the people I got to know.
But don’t be fooled; not all of my websites were successes, and some failures have cost me a lot of money over the years. It’s the nature of this game, you know. You win some, you lose some. But that’s a story for another time.
8. How many sites or online businesses have failed or not gotten going?
I guess ¼ of my sites didn’t go the way I expected them to. Some were affected by Google, Facebook, and Pinterest algorithm updates. Others, I simply underinvested in, so they never grew to their full potential. And, on a select few, I made mistakes with the niches I picked.
9. How much are you earning each month?
- $5,001 – $10,000
10. What are your current streams of revenue?
- Affiliate Sales
- Display Ads
- Books and eBooks
- Digital Products & Courses
11. What are your Top 3 on-page SEO strategies?
1/ Create really good intros for your posts.
It builds trust and keeps the reader engaged from the moment they start skimming—and, oh boy, do they skim—your article. Most people use AI writing assistants for their content. My team and I use them differently; we generate ideas for engaging, quirky intros that we then use in our writing.
2/ If your site’s big enough, seek out sources on HARO, Qwoted, or Australia’s SourceBottle.
My sites have outranked some of the biggest players on the Internet (it takes time and backlinks help) with quotes from authoritative sources.
3/ Illustrate, illustrate, illustrate.
Have unique Canva images that help you get the point across. Buy a sketchpad or hire a freelancer to create some unique sketches for your highest-trafficked posts. Shoot videos, upload them on YouTube or Ezoic’s video player, then embed them in your posts.
The goal of informational content is to help people figure things out. The goal of commercial content is to help them make decisions. A picture is worth a thousand words, and it can help you not have to write a thousand words more to compete for difficult keywords.
12. What’s the biggest issue(s) that you’re facing today?
Scaling—and sustaining scale—is always a big pain in the *ss, especially in a new niche for which you don’t have good editors/content managers/writers yet. I try to work with a select few freelancers and agencies and give them honest, actionable feedback that helps them understand what I need and why I’m looking for it.
Still, people come and go, teams change, and things happen, so quality and throughput fluctuate. Keeping the ball rolling is harder than many of us who are on this level care to admit.
13. What tool(s) do you rely on the most?
- Ahrefs for keeping tabs on organic traffic/keywords and technical SEO audits.
- I’m also a Ubersuggest lifetime subscriber; I sometimes prefer its simplicity over Ahrefs, especially when I’m tired.
- Google Search, Google Trends, and LowFruits for keyword research. Most people know I like LowFruits so much, that I started a case study with it!
14. What has been the biggest mistake you made?
Spreading my time and resources too thin across too many sites at the same time. These days, I focus on growing 2-3 sites per quarter (with intense publishing) and keeping the lights on (with 2-3 posts per week and minor updates to old posts) on the rest.
15. What has been the best decision you’ve made?
I subscribed to the big newspapers out there (think NYT, WSJ, FT) as well as the magazines in my niches and started reading one of them every night before I go to sleep. By seeing what they publish, how they work with advertisers, and what kind of user experience they create in their mobile apps, I learn about content strategy, business models, and user engagement. And it puts me to sleep!
16. What’s one thing that you felt accelerated your journey the most?
I once launched three websites in different niches, published 50 pieces of content each, and didn’t touch them for a full year. By the end of the year, it was easy to see which offered the best prospects in terms of page views and RPM per thousand words. So I invested most heavily in it.
This turned into a sort of playbook for me. Build, wait, allocate. It helps me reinvest my money more prudently when starting new projects with long time horizons.
17. What’s your 12 month goal?
Live the life and grow the business. Enjoy working with my team, coaching others, and chatting with peers. Of course, there are more concrete goals tied to metrics, but this is the long and the short of it.
18. How do you stay up to date on SEO, affiliate marketing, display ad, and other news?
- Your newsletter is among those I open and read every week, Yoyao!
- I also follow Matt Diggity
- Mushfiq from The Website Flip (Read Mushfiq’s Niche Creator interview)
- Olga Zarzeczna from Seosly
- Nick LeRoy from #SEOForLunch
- Steve Toth from SEO Notebook
- On YouTube, I binge Niche Pursuits
- Niche Website Builders
- Doug Cunnington
- And the good folks at Income School
19. What do you eat or drink for fuel to keep going?
Coffee, coffee, and coffee.
Yoyao, did I forget to mention coffee?
20. Where can people follow you?
I have a blog, Dim — A Web Publisher, where I publish posts every now and then and link out to case studies. My email is there, so feel free to say hi and ask me a question via email!
I’m doing a case study for building an informational website in the BBQ niche on a fresh domain with Low Fruits right now. July is Month 9 and the big reveal of the website, so I invite you all to follow along at https://blog.lowfruits.io/case-study-1.
BONUS: Anything else you’d like to share that can help others?
Just words of wisdom (actually, I’ll let you be the judge of that), for anyone looking for it.
Have fun and make friends. Do good for your team, help others grow. And don’t be a sh*thead by stealing content or negative SEO-ing other people’s blogs. The best part of this business—and community—is in not taking the shortcuts, and getting to know the people behind the SERPs.