Michael X. Donovan
“I owe 100% of the success I am starting to see to not letting the fear of judgement hold me back.“
published: April 23, 2022
1. Where do you live?
I live on a lake, just south of Boston, MA. I love waking up early with a cup of coffee, working on content while looking out at the water.
2. When did you start creating content?
I started creating content for my blog in Jan 2020, just before the pandemic hit.
3. Are you a full-time Creator?
I still have my 9-5.
4. What was the “Click” that made you decide you can make full-time money online.
I’ve reached a point where I could quit my job and do this full time, but at the moment I love that I can do both. There is a strong compounding effect when you have a side income + solid 9-5.
I am exploring several other side-income projects at the moment. If I could establish at least one additional income stream, I would seriously consider becoming a creator full-time.
5. How many niche sites have you created?
Just the one.
6. How many are you still running now?
Just the one.
7. Have you sold any sites or online businesses? And what was the ROI like?
I haven’t sold any sites.
8. How many sites or online businesses have failed or not gotten going?
This is the only blog I’ve worked on.
9. How much are you earning each month?
- $10,001 – $50,000
10. What are your current streams of revenue?
- Affiliate Sales
- Display Ads
11. What are your Top 3 on-page SEO strategies?
1) 50-75 word intros followed by a 50 word answer target (featured snippet). Stop the 450 word intro fluff madness!
2) Interlink your content! Because I write most of the content myself, I am always aware of opportunities to link to other pieces of content I’ve written.
3) My first H2 is almost always the exact keyword phrase I am targeting
12. What’s the biggest issue(s) that you’re facing today?
Scale. I still write 90+% of the content myself. ~8 months ago I tried building a team. I went to Fivver, Upwork, ProBlogger, etc. and began sourcing writers. I got 100s of applications, narrowed it down to about 5 that started working for me. I’m now down to 1.
Finding QUALITY writers that consistently show up is so difficult.
13. What tool(s) do you rely on the most?
- Ahrefs & SEMrush (keyword research)
- Google Analytics and Search Console (data)
- Canva & Unsplash (images and editing)
- YouTube (research)
- Google Sheets (content planning, etc.)
14. What has been the biggest mistake you made?
After my first year of blogging I felt burnt out, and I wasn’t seeing a ton of results so I stopped publishing content for nearly 5 months!
As content began to rank, I started seeing traffic and was motivated to start working on the site again. I think my blog would have taken off much sooner had I been publishing all along.
15. What has been the best decision you’ve made?
Putting my self out there. Starting my blog, sharing my journey on Twitter, doing a Podcast – all of these things were (and still are in someways) outside my comfort zone. But I owe 100% of the success I am starting to see to not letting the fear of judgement hold me back.
16. What’s one thing that you felt accelerated your journey the most?
A strategy I call “Brand Swapping”. You can read more about it on my Twitter account, but at a high-level, I am able to reuse 80+% of the content (word-for-word) from one post and turn it into 10-15 additional posts.
I think traditional SEOs would call this Duplicate Content, but Google is rewarding me for it. 1/5 of my traffic (100,000+ pageviews a month) is coming from this strategy alone.
17. What’s your 12 month goal?
Publish at least 15 posts a month (180 posts for the year) and grow my Twitter audience to 10k+.
18. How do you stay up to date on the SEO, affiliate marketing, display ad, and other news?
Twitter. It’s an incredible resource.
19. What do you eat or drink for fuel to keep going?
I am addicted to coffee. I drink it all day long. Toasted almond ice, 1 cream, no sugar.
20. Where can people follow you?
People can find me @NicheDown (https://twitter.com/NicheDown) on Twitter. I share EVERYTHING about my process, my strategies, my analytics, my earnings and more.
Editor Update: After this interview was published, Mike and his brother, Keith, started a new site to share their journeys – https://nichetwins.com.
BONUS: Anything else you’d like to share that can help others?
1) Stop telling everyone what you’re about to do, and just go do it. When I started this blog I decided I wasn’t going to talk about it with friends etc. until I had worked on it for at least 6 months. Sometimes telling others about our big plans gives us a dopamine rush that doesn’t last, then we never get around to doing the actual work.
2) Stop letting the fear of judgement hold you back. The truth is nobody cares. They are too wrapped up in themselves, and what they’re doing. I still remember thinking that after I hit publish on my first blog post, all these people were going to text me and tell me what a loser I am. How ridiculous is that?
3) What would happen if you focused on just one project for the next 12 months? I’m biased, but I see so many people working on 15 things and getting little results. There is a ton of power in focusing 100% of your energy in one direction for a long period of time…