“I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and experiences that wouldn’t have been possible if I had been doing this as purely a side project.”
published: September 3, 2022
1. Where do you live?
Nottingham, in the UK. I live outside of the city in a great little town that’s within walking distance of schools, shops, train station, lakes, and endless fields to walk the dogs in.
It also delivers 1Gbps internet speeds, so it’s a great place to run my business!
2. When did you start creating content?
I’ve been creating content since 2006! My first blog was a men’s lifestyle blog and I wrote articles like “100 Articles Every Guy Should Know”. ?
It did pretty well, hit the home page of Digg a bunch of times before getting banned and then I sold it on Flippa about 4 months later for something like $10k.
Since then I’ve built, bought, and sold over 100+ projects – most of them content sites!
3. Are you a full-time Creator?
Yeah, I’ve been doing this full time since early 2019 with a partner, and went completely solo on my own projects around September 2021.
4. What was the “Click” that made you decide you can make full-time money online?
I’ve always had the mindset that if you can make $1 a day, you can make $10 a day, if you make $10 a day, you can make $100, and so on.
So really I knew it was possible early on when I was building niche AdSense websites on obscure topics like “PCV licenses” (a license to drive passenger-carrying vehicles) and started making £10+ a day in ads.
There were a lot of stops and starts though, and the “click” for me in terms of going full-time being an actual reality is when I acquired an aged content site with my partner for $12,000 and it paid itself back in AdSense alone within the first 3 months!
We pivoted that site to a subscription model for teachers, went full-time on it, and the rest is history!
5. How many niche sites or online businesses have you created?
So, so, many. I don’t even think I could confidently give a number. I’ve created at least 50, but acquired and sold at least the same again so it all becomes a blur at this point ?
6. How many are you still running now?
I’m currently running about 12 projects, with a focus on the 4 that I think have the biggest growth potential right now.
7. Have you sold any sites or online businesses? And what was the ROI like?
I’ve sold a lot of sites and two primary businesses. I put out a tweet with some vague info about a couple of them to give people an idea of what’s possible.
I’ve never really calculated the ROI but it’s fair to say I’ve done well out of the sales and am now in a position to work on projects that interest me and see where things go.
8. How many sites or online businesses have failed or not gotten going?
Not many haven’t really got going. If something doesn’t work right away, I’ve had a tendency in the past to sell early (mostly to the same person each time!) and they inevitably do work eventually – just not for me ?
9. How much are you earning each month?
- $10,001 – $50,000
10. What are your current streams of revenue?
- Affiliate Sales
- Display Ads
- Digital Products & Courses
- Private advertising
11. What are your Top 3 on-page SEO strategies?
I briefly covered this in my programmatic SEO post, but I keep SEO really simple and let the keyword research do the heavy lifting!
1. It feels like SEO 101 to say it, but having a keyword-focused H1, title and page description is the biggest factor.
2. Internal linking works really well. I try to interlink in-post, in the sidebar, using breadcrumbs etc. This becomes especially important with large sites.
3. Having actually useful, helpful content that answers what the visitor is looking for. I don’t try and stuff keywords into headings or hit a certain keyword count. I’m just trying to answer the topic in the best way possible. If I need to use diagrams, tables, or charts to do that, I will!
SEO isn’t rocket science, despite what some people might tell you ?
12. What’s the biggest issue(s) that you’re facing today?
I have a couple of great writers, my projects are going well, and I have simple, scalable systems in place.
Honestly, the biggest issue I face is focus. I haven’t found “the one” project yet that I want to throw myself into yet.
I love building sites but you can experience real burnout from having too many projects on the go, and I’m looking for something where I don’t have to rely on the whims of Google!
13. What tool(s) do you rely on the most?
I’m a hobbyist dev at best, and a lot of my projects are 80%+ programmatic SEO, so I use GitHub Copilot A LOT! It writes full functions for me and saves me a lot of time having to StackOverflow things that I don’t know.
I also use Google Docs with my content writers and Python to convert them to Markdown to add to my blog. Here’s the script I wrote for that:
14. What has been the biggest mistake you made?
Jumping into niches I have no real interest in just because I see keyword opportunities. Money isn’t everything and I need to enjoy the project beyond that to stick with it.
Either that or accidentally deleting £10k worth of annual subscriptions for one of my education membership sites!
15. What has been the best decision you’ve made?
Quitting my job to go full-time! I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and experiences that wouldn’t have been possible if I had been doing this as purely a side project.
16. What’s one thing that you felt accelerated your journey the most?
You can use books or a course if you’re completely green on a topic, but the one thing that has accelerated my journey the most has been a desire to figure things out for myself by doing them!
I’ve written 100k+ words for my own blogs, designed worksheets and PowerPoint presentations to sell to teachers, done my own link building, designed my own banners, written my own code, and done my own customer support.
Each time I try and do something new, or something old in a different way, I learn so much that can then be applied to my other projects. Progress through iteration!
17. What’s your 12 month goal?
I don’t have one! Maybe sell a couple of sites, buy a couple of sites, try and figure out what I want to do beyond programmatic SEO and content sites? Watch this space…
18. How do you stay up to date on SEO, affiliate marketing, display ad, and other news?
I only know about stuff if I see other smart people I follow sharing or talking about it on Twitter. I know the basics, and I know what works for me, so as long as that keeps working, I don’t need to seek out or spend my time reading stuff. I’d rather build another site!
19. What do you eat or drink for fuel to keep going?
Really strong flat white coffee is my go-to drink to set me up for work mode, and I like to munch on beef jerky too!
20. Where can people follow you?
I’m trying to blog more at ian.is, and I’m also on Twitter @iannuttall.