Ewen Finser On Growing 26 Sites to 300k Page Views in 12 Months
Today’s guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast is Ewen Finser. Ewen is the CEO and co-founder of Venture 4th Media and Content Teams I.O. Today, he’s talking to our host Jared about how he and his team build multiple successful websites in blasts each year.
Ewen is an expert at launching websites at scale and offers pearls of wisdom and insights from his experience building hundreds of sites. No stone is left unturned as he talks about topical relevance, niche selection, building content teams, and more.
He’s kind enough to share his three-step process which can help you validate a niche before you start to avoid potential headaches early on. And he also talks about how to see what sites are working after a short time of testing.
In addition, Ewen shares knowledge on keyword research, content marketing, affiliate marketing, advertising hacks, and adding videos to your sites.
Other Things Ewen Finser Talks About During The Interview:
How Ewen Finser gets insights from exploring the dataE.A.T. (Expertise, Authority & Trust)Building content teams effectivelyThe exact process for publishing contentFiring bullets and cannonballs When to go all in on a topicWords of wisdom from his wife that helped him at the startRe-investing wiselyHow many articles to produceChecking out the competitionFinding untapped nichesHow Ewen delivers content at scaleThe process of hiring and organizing writersBrand partnershipsAuthentic videos without breaking the bankPlus a whole lot more…
If you plan to build hundreds of websites like Ewen, you’ll love this episode, but even if you’re a one-website person and have no intention of mass-building, the advice, tips, and information provided are super helpful.
It’s another action-packed episode from the Niche Pursuits podcast, and as always, have the pen and paper ready because notes are a must for this one — enjoy.
LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE INTERVIEW:
This Episode is Sponsored by: Rank I.Q. and Ahrefs.com
watch the full interview with ewen finser:
Read the full transcription:
Jared: Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today I am joined by Ewen Finser welcome on board.
Ewen: Great to be here, Jared. Yeah, this is gonna be a fun one.
Jared: We’re gonna be talking about sites, but we’re gonna be talking about websites at scale and I’m talking serious scale here.
You know, I don’t wanna over bury the lead, but you have a great story. That’s gonna culminate really, and us talking about how as an, an agency, um, and immediate company, you’re, you’re tackling building sites at scale and with investors. So. So many great threads we’re gonna dive down, but before we do give us a background and, and really how you got to the point where you’re at right now.
Ewen: for sure. So I would say like so many in the audience got started trying to look for alternatives, right. Alternatives to the career path. A lot of the stuff that actually Spencer talks about back in the day about, you know, his day job and the cubicle, and it’s, it’s a funny, kind of funny serendipity.
Now that back in 2011, 2012, I was, I was listening to Spencer and niche pursuits podcast and getting inspiration from his story about building niche sites. And that was what I kind of attached myself to that, that narrative. And then mm-hmm, , you know, started that side hustle. So way back in 2011, I had gotten started with kind of dabbling online, selling different things on Amazon selling textbooks when I was in, uh, college.
So I had been exposed to kind of this idea of, of. eCommerce really, but then I, you know, I, I quickly grew a little bit, um, bored of the, of the routine of, you know, trying to find inventory by textbooks or, or, or sell them online. That was kind of a very time intensive process. And so I was looking at some other ways I could earn kind of income.
And then I noticed that Amazon had an associate’s program. I was like, well, what is this ? And then kind of went down that rabbit hole. And then I realized that. You know, we could earn money while we sleep. And I think that’s the truth to passive income. It’s not really passive. It’s just, you can earn it asynchronously to when you put the effort in.
So that was very exciting and I, you know, spun up a couple niche sites and then, you know, graduated from college, you know, had maybe a, you know, few hundred bucks a month from these little passive in, uh, passive income sites and got a traditional day job as a, uh, technical recruiter working in kind of a, more of, I wouldn’t say fortune 500, but working with fortune 500 clients in a corporate setting.
Right. And while it was, you know, great to get that job was a great experience. I quickly realized that, you know, I wasn’t cut out for that. I kind of looked around and I realized that, you know, a lot of the people that were kind of quote unquote successful are doing the same thing that I was doing at the time.
So I was looking at like, wow, 20 years of this seems like a lot. So started working. You know, more on the websites as a, as a mechanism to potentially quit the day job. And I remember one time, this was very, very pivotal in my, in my brain, cuz I was like, well, I don’t have enough time. You know, working all hours.
Um, how do I work on these? This side hustle. I remember my wife saying at the time we had just gotten married, you know, why don’t you just stop at a Starbucks or a Panera bread, and rather than sit in New Jersey traffic for, you know, an hour and a half on the way home, just sit in the Starbucks and work on the sites and then come home after when there was less traffic.
So that’s kind of what I did for a period of, you know, I’d say six to nine months to get traction, um, and then was able to get it to a point where, you know, at the time it was enough as a, as a, as a young married guy with no kids, two to 3000 a month was like, wow, that’s, that’s close to, you know, it’s not quite replacing the day job, but it’s, it’s, you know, it’s a sizeable, you know, it can pay the rent type thing.
So, uh, was able to quit the day job back in 20 14, 20 15 timeframe, um, and achieve this like lifestyle, uh, Nirvana. I think that a lot of people looked for in this space, passive income, uh, replaced my day job. You know, it was kind of a solo operation. I had some freelance writers, but it was probably like many in the audience.
I was kind of doing it myself. I did that for a while. It was great. I could work whenever I wanted to have that lifestyle freedom, but then like after maybe a year or two of that, I, I kind of realized that, you know, I was missing something. I was like, what if we kind of pushed this a little bit further?
We’re generating a lot of good free cash flow. What if I started reinvesting and what if we scaled the team a little bit? And so I started gradually and very organically, uh, bringing on, uh, kind of project managers, editors, things like that, that would, you know, people that, that would make my life easier.
And kind of got to the point where we grew up into more of a, I call it a boutique media company. So I’ll kind of stop there. because that kind of brings us up to 2000, uh, 16, 17, but we started to basically build a team. And so that was kind of, I guess, my evolution from escaping the cubicle to kind of starting a, a boutique media company.
I love your definition of passive income. I’ve never heard it put that way. And I think it’s perfect. Like it’s not about earning money without working. It’s really just about earning money at a different time than you put in the work in some way, but it doesn’t mean that you get to just, you know, necessarily sit on a beach.
Like we all maybe thought when we first started this game, that in your wife is also one very smart woman for, to recommend that you sit out traffic and get some work done in the meantime. That’s great. So. Things for bringing us up up to speed. I mean, you kind of had a, I guess maybe a, a classic journey into the website building and affiliate marketing space.
I realized that everyone’s, journey’s a little different, but you certainly kind of check the boxes of dabbling in some form of, uh, of side hustle, getting it at day job, and then pushing yourself by working on the side to eventually get to the point where you’re able to leave that. What, what type of, of site or sites did you have when you kind of first started in, in this affiliate marketing space?
Uh, I like, where are those sites today?
Do you still have ’em we still have actually a couple of them. Okay. Uh, it’s funny enough. We, we sold a couple, we have a couple, some didn’t, you know, I wouldn’t say pan out, like very early on. Right. I kind of went down the rabbit hole with the internet marketers of, you know, the micro niche site, which was kind of all the rage back then.
Yep. Using like APRI buying PBN links. And after I quickly realized after an update. Uh, early on that, you know, that wasn’t very sustainable. So then I kind of took the approach of, you know, what, I’m not even gonna worry about this whole off page stuff, this link building link. Like I’m gonna forget about that and just focus on quality content and not to say that our content.
Was always amazing, right? Cause it’s kind of an evolving process, but by taking the focus off of like manipulation and SEO tactics and more on a long term strategy, we were able to kind of put our heads down and take a long term view. So, so yeah, I mean some of the sites back in the day of MicroAge sites, but then we started evolving.
So we kind of went more authority site, larger site. And it’s kind of interesting cuz I think now it’s not full circle, but I’m coming back to a thesis, uh, around. Relatively targeted. It’s a targeted niche authority sites, which might be an interesting distinction, but yeah, some of the sites still do exist, so it’s not like these were churn and burns.
Jared: good. Well, very good. I wanna ask you a quick question before we dive into, you know, like you said, 2017 and beyond catching this up today. And I, I think maybe it, maybe you could speak to it a little bit. Like, it seems like if you were to sample the pool of people who have walked away from their day job and are, are building websites full time, you get almost two different types of people.
You get the person that is really very happy to build on their own. Maybe they have a writer or two that they’re working with, but really it’s a solo operation. And then you get the people. Who leave that day job, do this full time and kind of go down the route of building out more of a media company or more of a team.
Right. And they have writers, they have an editor and they, they kind of manage that for you. It seems like you dabbled in both. You started with doing it mostly on your own and then transitioned into having more of a team. Just curious, what caused that switch? Was it something you kind of had to learn about yourself or was that always a goal that you knew you’d go there.
Ewen: No, it was not always a goal, you know? And, and sometimes I, I said the grass is always greener a little bit. Like I sometimes when we’re dealing with really difficult challenges or something, or work with investors or something, sometimes I pine for the day when we could, I just had, once I was just myself, you know, and I didn’t have, like, I, you know, when, when you have employees, when you have a team, you have an obligation really to them.
And that’s how, what I feel so that it does change things. Right? Cuz it’s not, you’re not just thinking about your own kind of selfish desires anymore. You’re also thinking about how do we keep the team growing cuz you, you know, these people are very important. They become important to you. Um, or at least to me.
And so yeah, it was kind of a little bit of a light, light bulb moment and you know, I think there’s there’s many paths. Right. And I, I, I still see people today who actually. Just have one site or two sites or whatever, and, and their solo operators. And they do most of the content themselves still. They create fantastic multimillion dollar businesses in the content space.
And that’s what I love about this space. You have those stories and then you kind of have the approach that we evolved into, which is having, you know, 150 plus websites across different portfolios with distributed teams. And so it, you know, it was more of a, um, I think it was, for me, it was looking at the opportunity that, and I still see this today in the space, even after all these years, how much blue sky opportunities that still exists, even if it isn’t a little bit more competitive, there’s so many verticals, so many sites that need to be created in my opinion.
Um, and so many big content footprints that need to be disaggregated and we can get more into that. So it was really a function of there’s all this opportunity. There’s this kind of unmet demand. How do we get to where we wanna go faster? Yeah, but I, I still, you know, have, I guess a foot in both camp in the sense of, I really do.
I still like getting into the weeds with the sites, doing Q research. I’m a practitioner as well as a, as like more of a, uh, strategy side. So I, I try to keep I feed in both camps, but yeah, it was really a function of how do we bring more. Content brands to market and in, in a faster period of time. And that led us to the team that also led us to the investors.
Jared: Yeah, no, you bring up a good point. Both work, both work is just fascinating to kind of, um, I think maybe actually add that point of definition for, for people listening. Like both can work like there isn’t one ultimate you don’t have to end up managing a, uh, of a collection of 150 websites, which by the way, transitions us nicely into what you are doing, which is managing a lot of websites.
So let’s, let’s transition into. Where you’re at today, you know, you kind of stop the journey at 2017. I think you said we’ve got about five more years to catch up on to where you are now, which is again, running and operating a lot of websites, both for yourself and for your, for your investors.
Ewen: Yeah. So I think around 2017, well, 20 I’d say one pivotal moment was 2015, uh, after I’d been out of, out of the day job for about a year, I, uh, joined this group called the Rodian community.
Um, which I think actually Spencer’s a part of as well. It’s a great group run by Chris Yates. Who’s a good friend of mine and like full of all the people there are, are mentors and, and friends. So that was a key moment cuz it kind of introduced me to a wider ecosystem, kind of like this podcast too, if there’s other people out there, but it’s more of a, uh, Kind of bidirectional experience where you’re not only just engaging with a podcast, you’re also participating in a community.
And so that was pivotal, cuz it introduced me to people that were doing things at scale, other econ ventures, SAS. And then through that group in 2017 kind of met up with, uh, was connected to some investors or, or you know, family office that was interested in kind of investing the space. And so back then it was interesting evolution.
Cause at the time I thought. I’m building sites because one day I wanna get to a point where I can go out and I can buy sites. And like, you know, at the time there was wired investors, this was back in maybe 2016 and there’s a couple other kind of funds out there. And man, they were doing exciting things.
This idea that, you know, it’s easy, you know, it’s, it’s just as easy to build as it is to operate an established website. So we kind of pulled some capital. Uh, we went out and, uh, my thesis was okay, I’m done with the building phase. Now I’m gonna go out and do the M and a stuff, cuz that’s what everyone does when they grow up and we quickly realized we some sites that worked out well and some sites were kind break, even we had, but we had like least one that sticks in my mind that was like a 90% value reduction within a year from where we purchased it.
I think it was like 250 K down to like almost zero. And so that was kind of like a scarring experience. Oh wow. But I think that’s, it’s important to talk about this because I think a lot of times, you know, the failures are not really discussed. The failure that failure inspired me to re reevaluate the thesis around M and a, is that really the best approach?
And so I kind of went to the wilderness, did some reading I read this book called good to great by Jim Collins and big fan of his work. And one of the concepts, I really, there was a bunch of them, but one of them I stuck to was this idea of fire bullets, and then cannonballs this idea that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs into one basket.
Um, you should really do it a validation and empirical validation exercise before committing to the full strategy. And so I said, what if we did this for websites? Um, and rather than do M and a, what if we returned to our roots and did ground up sites, but we did it in a very organized and disciplined fashion where we allocated capital at a, at a, the same interval across multiple sites, um, from day zero.
And then we measured the results and doubled down on the ones that were, uh, showing signs of progress. So. Uh, with that in mind, we kind of in 2019, uh, after some of these failures with M and a formed a pilot program, uh, with 10 sites, we took $250,000 and we launched, we launched these Denovo vanilla domains, nothing fancy, no expired domains.
And we basically had an allocation strategy where we tried to get over a hundred, 120 articles for each site within six months. Um, and then we kinda let them. Let them get through the sandbox. Did some, I’d say some outreach for like kind of hero or white hat kind of, uh, link building. Um, and then, uh, really waited until a year.
And then at that one year, mark, we kind of looked back at the sites and said, okay, we had all these assumptions. We had all these theories about which sites have. I think I’m great at picking niches, but I’m, I’m frequently surprised at what I don’t know. Um, and so this mechanism kind of enforces humility into the process and.
So we got that, that one year mark, we doubled down the winners. So we reserved some of the capital where we probably went out the door with 60% of our capital allocation. Um, so we had $250,000. We allocate 60% of that into 10 sites, got them over a hundred articles each. Then we found the winners, maybe there’s four or five of them that were doing really, really well in that cohort.
And we doubled down with remaining capital on those. And that kind of led us to an optimal growth. And by the two year mark, uh, we were at, uh, essentially a, a two X asset value relative to the $250,000 that we had invested. So, you know, at that point we were able to say, well, if, if we know nothing else, we know that.
Over a two year period, we can kind of double our like double our money if we were to go sell these things. And so that was enough validation for me to say, let’s go do this a little bit bigger and swing for the fences, but in a very kind of empirical way. And so then we went out, um, and in may of 20, uh, 21 raised a, uh, a fund from some angel investors, um, uh, a group of kind of people in my network.
Um, $800,000 launched 26 sites. Uh, and then, uh, did the same process. And so today we are just over the one year mark, so we’re just starting to monetize those sites, but we’ve basically gone from zero to 300,000 page views a month in that period of time. So, um, the ideas that we’ll probably continue to do, uh, these types of funds and then, uh, kind of learn and iterate from each process and, uh, you know, we might have different flavors.
What we also build into the model, like strategically exiting a certain percentage of the portfolio once they’re mature. Um, and then, you know, some interesting economics around, if you sell one site and you can maybe launch five more, uh, and then in another six months you sell another site, you launch seven more and so you can kind of get the benefits of P portfolio theory, um, while also having like a very optimal capital allocation plan.
If that makes sense.
Jared: You went through a lot of details this week. Yeah. And I took in about three minutes, a page of notes, which is awesome. Very strategic approach. Very smart approach. If anyone’s listening and wants basically a playbook on. A strategic approach to do this at scale, but also diversifying in a really well thought out way.
That was brilliant. Um, so that three minute clip, right there was brilliant. I love how you, um, have a plan for how much of the capital you’ll go in with, and then you save some capital to continue to reinvest. I love the idea that after a set period of time, you were kind of defining it as a year. You would go back and, and basically double down on the ones that are working well.
Um, and then, uh, you know, kind of had this real, tangible metric you were using after two years, the asset had basically doubled in value. uh, can we get into the nitty gritty about some of the details here with some of the stuff . I just have so many things I wanna ask you about. I mean, let’s start by, uh, looking at niche selection.
I mean, you teased it a bit and I wanna go back to the, the, the initial batch of 10 sites you started in 2019. You kind of teased about how I thought. I am really good at niche selection. I thought I was really good at niche selection. How do you go about niche selection when you’re looking at sites at scale, what did you learn from that?
What can you share with people about niche selection that that might have come through in those, in, in that first round?
Ewen: Yeah. Well, I, I will caveat it by saying it, look, it’s an iterative process. It’s a learning experience. And, you know, as you’re leveling up, you know, you’re going from level one to three, four, and your niche selection, expertise, Google is also kind of adding levels so you’re, you’re constantly having to respond to the feedback, right?
So like a lesson learned from our first, um, incubator in 2019, the pilot program was, you know, at that point, I, I was still kind of like, oh, large is good. You know, like we, we launched a site in home improvement as a category. Uh , which is a great category in hindsight. And what I know now, what I’m excited about now is less about doing a big home improvement authority site and more about.
Nicheing down to a subtopic within there, like roofing or plumbing or bathrooms or, you know, something like that. Um, just because, you know, the, the, the correct answer is when I talked about that capital allocation plan, 120 articles is not the same in different verticals. So you have to get a right size.
The minimum viable dose of content to the vertical you’re going into. Right. So if you’re tackling, do you wanna create an automotive site, right. About everything automotive? Well, that’s a massive vertical.
Jared: You maybe need outs and articles to even get minimally
Ewen: viable. Yeah, exactly. Hundred percent. So, um, that’s one lesson learned.
And so I’ll go back to like the initial selection is generally it follows three kind of basic principles. One is, you know, are enough people searching for it, which is, I think can cover a bunch. You know, it’s a key, it’s a basket basket approach of keyword volume or topical volume around, uh, you know, uh, categories.
So it doesn’t have to be like less about what keyword, what’s the minimum, you know, keyword, uh, volume. It’s more about what is the aggregate, uh, keyword volume for all of these keyword sets. Um, so that’s step one. Step two is, is the competition prohibitive. So, you know, if you have some really big players, right.
And I would, I. Caveat it by saying people would generally say like, if you’re competing, it’s the wire cutter. Like it’s a bad niche, I would say. Yeah. Uh, possibly but, but getting back to this idea of right sizing your niche, I think that’s a really underappreciated kind of tactic is to, is to really niche down and to develop topical authority.
I’m a big believer in topical authority, um, because I’ve seen what topical authority alone can do without an off page, uh, link building strategy. If that makes sense. A lot of times, those things, two things are thrown into in the mix together and you kinda lose sight of what’s causing what, um, but you know, we have plenty of examples where our Dr.
Five, Dr. 15, Dr 23 site is out competing at Dr. 60 because the topical footprint, the topical map of our, our site is much more focused, but that’s kind of full circle to lesson learned. If I’m trying to go into the home improvement category, the automotive category. And my plan is to cover the entire market.
You know, I better not be, I can’t, I can’t bring a knife to a gun fight. I gotta. You know, the, the minimum viable content dose, like you said, would be a thousand articles, you know, um, to cover, cover that rather than going inch deep in a ton of different verticals, uh, within home improvement. So, and then the final thing is, is the final step is, is the juice worth to squeeze and, and that’s basically like, okay, we’re ranking number one.
So what you know are, what are your art ad RPMs? If you’re doing display ads, what does your affiliate networks look like? So we try to do a lot of that work upfront is identifying our average RPM for that vertical, because there’s plenty of interesting verticals that you can rank. Number one for that are, you know, a lot less monetizable or lucrative in general.
So this thing, the three things, enough people searching is, is there an opening in the market on the competitive side? Um, and is there, you know, enough partners to monetize with at a good, at a decent rate,
Jared: if you were only going after say one site, let’s say that you took the 800,000 on the most recent round, and for whatever reason, the investor team, and you decided to go after one site, would you change anything about that niche?
Ewen: Yeah, man, I’d be a lot. Well, it it’s that’s, you know, I’d have to be probably spend a lot more time maybe digging into some of the variables. Um, but yeah, it would change the allocation strategy, um, in terms of how much content we go out the door with, but it would follow a similar framework of like, I’d probably do 50 to 60% front.
Um, and then, you know, I, we look at it at like three levels now in terms of fire bullets and cannonballs at the very macro, uh, level, we’re looking at thematic place. So in, in November we raised a million dollars. We launched 32 sites in the gaming vertical. Um, and so we, we were starting to look at the map and saying, okay, there’s pets, there’s gaming, there’s home, there’s home improvement.
You know, that there’s certain interesting verticals we wanna play with. Um, and so now we’re placing pets at a macro level. Um, and so that’s one level of, of fireballs and canals. You know, we have a a hundred plus data sets in, in almost every single vertical. So we have real time data. That’s streaming back into our HQ about.
What are the good verticals? What are the RPMs and different niches? What, what does it actually take to rank, you know, where are the weak spots in reality, not just in ATFs or SIM rush. And so we’ve, we’ve kind of fired bullets across many different verticals, and now we wanna concentrate on some really interesting verticals that we wanna play with.
Um, so that’s the, the high level, then there’s the site level of like, okay. In a cohort, even within a thematic cohort, um, we wanna pick some different flavors, right. So, you know, if you’re in home improvement, you don’t wanna do a site about, you know, uh, I don’t know, um, roofing , uh, maybe the patio, maybe bathrooms, maybe, uh, bedrooms, what, whatever, uh, mid-century modern, you know, aesthetics, whatev, but create a bucket of, of sites across different verticals.
And then even within the site structure, fire bullets and cannonballs. When we go out, I mean, at each individual site level, We, when we launch the site, we probably, we take that, let’s say 120 articles and we’ll identify our wire frame up front with our, our site structure. And we’ll say, okay. Within, I don’t know, within roofing, there’s probably four or five categories we wanna talk about, wanna talk about like roofing materials.
We wanna talk about tools. Uh, we wanna talk about, I don’t know, trade certification, and then maybe like, I don’t know, lead gen services, those four categories we’ll allocate the budget across those four and then, uh, in the initial bullet phase. And so then we’ll, we’ll, we’ll also test on a site level where, where, where is Google giving, showing us a sign of weakness?
And let’s say, you know, roofing materials is one that’s weaker than the other ones at the 12 month mark or whatever nine month mark. When we decide to double down. We’ll not only double down on the winning sites, we’ll double down on the winning silos within the sites. If that makes sense. It,
Jared: it sounds very strategic upfront, very well planned out, very well thought out.
Um, it makes a lot of sense. Any tips that you’ve learned for finding maybe, uh, an untapped. Niche market, you know, a vertical that isn’t, you know, like how do you identify if it’s a vertical that is untapped versus not worth pursuing because maybe, you know, it’s just not something that, that you should bother
Ewen: going down.
Yeah. I mean, there’s the standard advice that I think works for a lot of people, which is find low, Dr. Uh, you know, competitors find other like little, you know, niche sites that aren’t really well done that are ranking great. That’s a good one. Finding forums or Reddit, like people have talked about that a lot.
That’s a good signal as well. Um, I think the other thing that I look at though, is I think a lot of people are maybe scared off about, is looking at markets where there are big dominant, massive authority sites or, uh, big eCommerce brands or user generated content profiles. I’m thinking like Wikipedia and it’s many various iterations, uh, trip advisor, whatever you wanna, you know, uh, and then basically saying, you know, is this the right.
And can we disaggregate this, this market with micro more focused sites. Right. And so a good example I like to give is for pets. You know, if, if someone came to me and said, I wanna create a, a pet site or a dog site, even I’d say you’re crazy. I mean, good luck go do it. You know, I, we done that a couple times myself, and it’s not that you can’t have some success, but what I would rather do in a better return profile would be to niche down to, you know, German shepherds and create a site about German shepherds.
I think that’d be a better return. And then I think even even further, what if you, uh, niche down and do a mix, right? Like a pit bull terrier mix site, just about that. And. That’s an interesting way to think about hypercompetitive markets and how you can compete. Um, and I think a lot of people dismiss whole markets because oh, personal finance is too competitive.
Well, yeah, I’ve seen some really interesting examples where people niche down by like, um, you know, like single mom finance or, uh, things like call white coat or investor for doctors, personal finance for doctors or military finance. Um, you know, think about how you can kind of take a big footprint and yeah, you can’t be nerd wallet.
Um, but we can definitely take one of their little silos that they’ll probably like not be super focused on and create a much more cohesive coherent site that Google likes and we can do it much more affordably.
Jared: Well, that’s a great deep dive into how to pick a niche and how to, how to go down some of these roads and how to validate a niche.
You know, I think, um, uh, a lot of people will, uh, maybe grab their niche and start their website and maybe go about it with a little bit more of a sporadic approach, um, trying to target, uh, and I’ve been guilty of this before with, with, with my websites in the past, you know, you kind of, um, you have to pick, are you gonna go down the topical focus approach where you really, I would call that the approach you’re taking, where you really flush out a topic.
And you’re trying to maybe go down a couple of related topics in that niche to see which one is validated via Google and, and via traffic down the road. But then there’s also the approach of going about it by just, Hey, here’s my niche. And you try to target any low competition keywords you can get after in the beginning.
That can work because you end up getting traffic due to the very low competition, but you can also end up with a really sporadic and chaotic approach to your topical, um, cluster at the end, if you will, have you ever gone down that road, um, or seen that work well or work
Ewen: negatively? Yeah, well, I famously was in, in that camp of, of the long tails, right back in the day and it worked for a long time and I think it still can work.
I think what it does is it kind of creates a very weak moat around your business, because if it’s easy for your general kind of site to snipe that keyword, it’s probably easy for a lot of other players. And oh, by the way, if a dot dash site finds your, your keyword, uh, they’ll just outran you overnight.
Right? So I, I, I think the durable approach is actually going, even, even if it’s a slower approach is to go the topical authority route. I still think you can do a certain percentage of your content that is sniping, right? And, and in fact, if you find a lot of long tail variations like that, That’s probably a very good sign about that market, but definitely I would recommend.
And what we’ve done is we still start with the main pillars, right? Like look ranking for best CRM or best web hosting yet. You’re, you’re definitely not gonna rank for that anytime soon. but still create that pillar content. Right. And then have all your, you know, have a good silo structure where you feed in at the, you know, parent child and then like the supporting content, informational content.
Um, really, we were build that out and yeah, target some of those long tails, but try to at least map it out, out, up front where you can kind of say, well, you know, there are weakness, there’s some weakness here in long tails, but we’re going to still build the infrastructure so that we, we can create a durable asset that won’t just be wiped out, um, you know, by a larger competitor coming in or someone more topically focused, kind of eating our lunch.
Mm-hmm I love that.
Jared: Yeah. A weaker moat. Yeah, you definitely. You’re not gonna win, uh, long term as easily with, with that approach. You might get quicker traction though. So that, yeah.
Ewen: And it’s all relative too. I think to, you know, like early on my approach was I need to make money. So no, the cash conversion cycle, and this is maybe more like B school stuff, but, and I haven’t gone to business school, so it’s self top, but like cash conversion is, is huge.
Um, so like getting money in the door to feed more content, you throw trade, have that trade off with like, yeah, creating like 10 informational articles about esoteric stuff. That’s probably not gonna generate a lot of revenue. I mean, that’s a, that’s a trade off you have to make. And so it’s really just a path finding exercise, but all in all things being equal, I do want to go that topical focused route.
Jared: switch gears a little bit. Just doing some quick math. I mean, we’re talking about your 2019. Incubator where you did 10 sites, 120 articles in six months. So that’s 1200 articles outta the gate. You know where we’re talking about may 20, 21, you launched 26 sites. I mean, I don’t know, but that’s 500 or, uh, sorry, a couple thousand articles.
I mean, how are you producing content at scale? Uh, you know, and, and what have you learned about content at scale? Uh, clearly you’re doing content scale.
Ewen: So, this is a very important point. I think for us is that, and, and where we have created some, some sort of moat around the, the operational note, I guess, would be, we’ve built.
We, we have a team we’ve developed a team, which is a lot of trial and error over the years of find the right people and find testing out processes and, and workflows. Um, that’s been huge, you know, E our COO Victoria, our C our chief revenue officer. So thinking about the structure of what do you need, what kind of roles functionally do you need at scale?
So, in our, in our side, there’s, you know, operations for our. Purposes is content, right? Content is our product. So that’s our widget that we’re, we’re producing. And on the revenue side, we have our, our revenue team and they’re all focused on brand partnerships. They’re focused on affiliate optimization, monetization, uh, negotiating with brands, you know, doing promotions.
Um, and then we have, you know, some other kind of, uh, initiatives around email marketing, uh, social media, um, our tech, we have kind of a fractional CTO and some, some technical infrastructure that we’ve built. Um, because one, when we’re launching all these sites, we need to do it all in an organized fashion.
So that necessitates some level of, um, infrastructure. So, you know, we have basically a system. We have one click installs, we have a base kind of, uh, Set up right, for a, a V1, uh, content site where it has a certain, you know, certain permissions are set, certain plugins are added, certain thematic elements are included.
Um, and so we can literally spin up a hundred sites in, in five minutes. If we have to granted, they have no content on them, but that’s, that’s a huge part of it because otherwise it’s, it is a kind of a tedious process to technically set up these sites. But then the, I think the big thing is, uh, what we, we call our content conveyor belt.
We had to develop some proprietary technology that would allow us to manage this entire workflow from a universal dashboard. Um, so it took many iterations over the last three, four years, but what we basically have is a WordPress instance, um, where all of our writers across all of our sites can log into and all of our editors and all of our VAs can log into all project members.
I can log into our team can log into and it gives a visual overview of the entire kind of. Assembly line, if you will, of content from, um, these are articles that have been pushed out and it’s kind of a self-served buffet line. So rather than having a very kind of siloed structure where, you know, your project manager signs it to your editor, editor signs, it signs, you know, if the right here here’s where 10 articles for this month, and then the writer will respond, oh, I finished three of ’em here they are.
And then like, oh, can I get paid? We said, no, let’s create a standardized process, an assembly line production floor where writers can log in. Each author profile is tagged to, to certain sites that they can write for. And they all have, they might have different rate per rate, per word. They might have all, all sorts of different variations depending on, you know, what their expertise is.
You know, they might be at 5 cents, a word for whiskey and 3 cents a word for automotive or something like that. Um, but when they go in, they just see, these are the available topics that, that writer can see that are available to them. Then they got, they can claim them and there’s certain rules and workflows around how long they can sit on an article when they need to submit it.
We give some flexibility, but you know, it’s basically this end to end management where then they submit the articles that there’s different stages to the article production process. Editors come in and review it. Um, send it back for, you know, uh, revisions, if it’s needed or approve it for the next stage.
Then the, uh, then it gets pushed via an API integration from this central, you know, brain out to the relevant site. It actually lives on. And then the format is, make sure everything’s good to go. They click, they schedule to go live. Um, and then on the back end, this is all track. All the words are tracked, how much car, uh, articles are getting produced per site per portfolio.
Cause we do different legal entities and it generates invoices for our writers as well, so that we can go in and we can do, um, mass payments. So we, right now we’re using mainly Upwork, uh, mainly PayPal and Upwork, but PayPal is our preferred option cuz we could do PayPal mass pay. And so with one click we can pay hundreds of writers.
Um, and you know, we’re spending sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on content. So that’s really, really key for us to be able to. You know, generate a paper trail, tie, tie out the loose end so we can see the whole evolution of that article. Um, and that each writer can, can go in and see for their own sake transparently.
This is what I’ve been paid for. This is the rate per word, how many words I’ve written, how many articles I’ve written, um, what stage it’s in. Um, and then we have our pay cycles are very upfront. We pay bimonthly so twice a month. Um, and, and yeah, it’s kinda this end to end content management system. So that’s been key for us, um, to really scale this, um, because it’s almost a, yeah, it’s almost like we call it our operating system basically.
Jared: Yeah. It’s it’s I, I think that’s a, it’s an APPT name for it. it’s quite system. Are your writers, uh, kind of freelance by nature or do you, are you hiring, you know, I’ll say in house with air quotes, like, are they employees? I mean, how do you find these writers.
Ewen: We have some, uh, employees that say more on the kind of the management side, but for the most part, they’re all freelancers.
They’re generally English speaking, but it can depend, you know, we have different contingent, some in Costa Rica, for example, you know, expat communities around the world. And, you know, I think one distinction we try to make is we don’t necessarily, we, we do have expert writers. We don’t necessarily target hiring expert writers.
We target hiring passionate enthusiasts. And then we also have a, a bootcamp, like a training program. We put them through to kind of write for the web and write for the ver uh, the vertical they’re entering. So, um, we. Much prefer raw passion, talent, and real hands on experience with a vertical versus I’m an expert copywriter, and I can produce X, uh, words per minute.
Um, so yes, generally freelancers. And generally we just, we find all sorts of passionate people that fall into our lap and we kind of help shape them into the writer they need to be for, for the sites they’re writing for.
Jared: Mm-hmm . How do the teams work? I mean, does an editor in your system, does an editor manage like four writers or, or is it more, um, open cart?
You’ve got a bunch of writers. You’ve got a bunch of editors. Writers submit editors, grab articles, um, you know, project manager. I’m just curious, like how this structures a bit for people to get their minds around this thing at scale
Ewen: it’s, it’s, it’s mostly a, on a assigned to a, on a site level. Right? Okay.
So like, ideally the editors are tagged to certain sites where they have some familiarity or expertise, and then once the sites are incubated to a certain level, we do introduce what we call a managing editor to either that site, let’s say it gets over a hundred thousand or 200,000 page views a month.
That site deserves some dedicated resource that thinks about the, the content side, the messaging, the branding, the evaluating, the writers for expertise, the kind of coordinating special projects, marketing initiatives. And then at the portfolio level, when we’re doing thematics, we generally have like our, our gaming portfolio managing editor.
Right. So, um, that’s where we achieve the benefits of having a niche expert. Kind of as a, it’s not really a general manager cuz they’re not doing the monetization side, but they’re, they’re managing the content side, which is the product side. And, and so they, but they can manage many of the sites, right.
That are that fall under their expertise. Right. Um, so yeah, that’s kind of how we do it a site or a thematic level.
Jared: Okay. Okay. Well you, you tease it a bit. Let’s talk about it. E a T expertise authoritative. Trustworthiness, uh, the idea that Google nowadays ever since probably about 2018 or so wants experts writing about the content and you have hundreds of niches you’re involved in, how are you guys tackling that?
Are you guys tackling it? Um, uh,
Ewen: are you worried about it? Yeah, no, it does. It is something we worry about. It’s actually, our strategic focus right now is how do we find? And it’s really, it’s the challenges. Cause we, we, we actually have a really good process for finding experts. And the question really is how do we showcase those experts?
And so you see all sorts of gamification right now in SEO, where you might see like, like medical professionals, uh, you know, on the E a T profiles. You’re like, eh, I don’t think that person’s real. Or like, maybe it’s like, they’re just like farming out this. They pay them like a hundred bucks a month to just get their name on the site.
You know, there there’s all sorts of gamesmanship and wow, that’s interesting. We don’t want, we don’t wanna do that. Right. And so we’re trying to find, but we’re trying to find cost effective ways to demonstrate E a T. And so. Kind of some of the things obviously like creating an about page is, is key. You know, um, you know, hands on testing is, is also key.
And I will say that, you know, in certain verticals that might be a cost prohibitive. Um, and so that’s something to think about upfront. Um, is this something that you can demonstrate E a T with? Or, or how can you do that? So sometimes you get a little creative with, you know, maybe it’s not sending like, like reviewing HVAC equipment, like you can’t send an HVAC unit to every writer, but maybe you can find writers who in their everyday life get exposure to that.
Right. And so there’s like this creative things you can do. We, we find one, one thing we’re leaning forward on a lot is video. And it’s not necessarily that. You know, you need to create a video for every single piece of written content. Uh, from our standpoint, it’s we need to create enough video that accurately projects, the expertise of our content team, right?
So, you know, producing video is obviously a little bit more expensive than producing content. And so, you know, even just having a YouTube channel that’s featured, uh, you know, around and on your site, on your bow page, on your homepage, on either sidebar, you know, in, in different strategic places, across the site, you, you, you don’t need hundreds of videos.
You probably just need a handful of videos to kind of demonstrate that, Hey, these people know what they’re talking about. Um, and you know, and, and generally also moving away maybe from creating product review sites, and this is kind of a, a, more of an esoteric shift product review sites versus enthusiast sites.
Mm. And so we’re leaning on the enthusiast part. Um, and what also helps with that is having display ad. You know, revenue as a stream and also doing what I call brand partnerships or hybrid approaches, where it might be some sort of affiliate hybrid with selling direct ad space to big brands. And it’s a very complicated, fragmented space, but if you can do, you can do that effectively as big money, you know, to be made.
Yeah. Um, you know, brands that will pay $10,000 a month just to get a featured placement across your site. That gets 50,000 pages a month. That’s I’ve seen that. Um, so that’s where we’re also leaning into. Um, but yeah, anyway, so back to the E T stuff. Yeah. We’re, we’re worried about it, you know, and it’s something we think about, but it’s also, it’s about, it’s a combination of things.
It’s how do we feature it in a cost effective way feature video, which is a kind of short circuit, the whole E a T cycle, because it’s like, well, the person has a video. They’re actually unboxing that thing. , that’s the ultimate signal that they know what they’re talking about. Right. Or at least they have been hands on.
Um, but then also picking verticals that might not be as E a T. Intensive, if that makes sense. So probably staying away from like health and like medical advice. Um, cuz that also just makes me feel uncomfortable personally. Like even if we could game it right. Is that really something you could sleep with yourself at night?
You know, if you’re, you know, having some generic copywriter, spit out medical content and then having a doctor, you know, paying him a few hundred bucks to say reviewed by, but like not actually having a process, uh, if that makes sense. yeah, yeah, no, it
Jared: does. Um, you kind of answered one of my questions about, you know, do you topically try to just avoid certain areas because the need for expertise is so high.
I I’d love to hear a little bit more about your, your, your video forays. Is that something you’re testing or are you kind of really seen, be a good solution to provide that expertise? You, I mean, I’m fascinated by the idea. Maybe you don’t need to become a video content hub, but you just need to add a video component to your site.
And you mentioned a handful of videos and then prominently placed, um, uh, how are you, how are you producing those? You know, are you, are you doing that yourself or are you actually hiring video teams to do it or, or maybe incorporating your writers
Ewen: into it? Yeah, well, that’s the, the part like we, we kind of steer away from like POL Polish video production is expensive and it’s generally bloated.
Right? And so we try to find ways where we can bring the economics down and, and honestly, like maybe incredible video to me might not be highly produced. It could be a shaky over the shoulder, iPhone video with the kids running around in the background, screaming like to me, that screams authenticity, you know, maybe it’s not, you know, I wouldn’t put it on a TV commercial, but like, again, that’s not right.
That’s not what we’re trying to do here. We’re putting enthusiast communities and enthusiasts are, are, are messy. Right? And so, uh, that’s one way to do it. And so we find that we can generally produce video for anywhere from 200 to 300, maybe, maybe a little bit more, uh, per let’s say five. Segment, right. Um, there is a different workflow involved, but it is still content.
So it’s a similar workflow, just a different medium. Um, uh, and so, yeah, we’re trying to do that. And I think the easiest place to start if you have an established site is to, if you have an ad network is to look at your top content and basically say, okay, what pages are getting the highest RPMs. If I add original video, That we’ve we’ve that increase our, our RPMs on a page level 10 20, maybe 25%, uh, because ad roles are generally, uh, additive to your, uh, page RPM.
So we can basically justify the economics by then, look, this is already making money. We had a video, we kind of know we’re gonna get a boost in RPMs here. This video will pay for itself an X number of days, weeks, months, by do that with all of our content. I love that that’s a whole model, right? Just whether whatever you’re putting out there, content written content or video content, what’s your payback period doing that, that analytical work to really figure out what is the rank ability on my site.
Um, and when do I make my money back based on the, the, the affiliate earnings or ad earnings that I’m getting piped back into my data room. So, um, yeah, so working on working on video as a, like focusing on the high, high ROI things, and then, oh, by the way, You can upload that to your ad player. You can also start your YouTube channel and you can use that same video to, to be another gas station in a different neighborhood on YouTube and, and your YouTube hub could become self-supporting.
At some point it can also be a good E a T signal, and it can be a good backlink source. And you can also monetize with the video, uh, use our YouTube ads, which isn’t great, but it’s some it’s incremental revenue and you can also put affiliate links on your description. So that’s why I like video, cuz there’s like enough overlap where if you take consistent effort, it’s gonna be a good ROI at some point, you know, if somewhere to tell me like, oh, you should go into TikTok.
I’d be like, ah, sure. I’ll dabble. But like I’m not I don’t, I don’t think TikTok is necessarily as, you know, as durable maybe than, uh, building out a, a video library, but you can probably still use it on TikTok, but um, just, you know, What’s a durable trend that is similar enough to our current content production cycle.
Jared: Love it. Great tips. Great tips. I hope everybody was listening to that right there. If you’re, if you’re trying to crack the video nut, that might be a fantastic approach. To scale it without having to spend a big bucks or that big time commit that video can, can feel like it’s gonna take. Um, so you talk about some intricacies with your, we’ll say tech stack, you know, with the technology that, that you’ve, you’ve built up.
I mean, how did you go about building some of this proprietary technology? Um, uh, is it something. Uh, you know, achievable for people who are running smaller sites, or do you think it’s more something that only large scale companies should try to focus on?
Ewen: Yeah, I think there’s certainly a breaking point, right?
Where you go from your Trello board or your sauna board and you feel like, okay, it’s gonna, we’re, we’ve outgrown this and we need a higher bird’s eye view for us. That was really when we started to get past probably like 20, 30 sites. Um, that’s where I think introducing some sort of level and that can, I’ve seen it done in different ways.
There’s all sorts of integrations you can do with maybe like, um, air table or like even creating, like I’ve seen WordPress instances that kind of are kind of CRE morphed into like a content calendar that there’s different. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. Um, So, I don’t think it’s, it’s a requirement necessarily.
Um, but I do think if you’re trying to do this at scale and like, what we’re doing is trying to do it in batches, um, where we’re like surging effort that I think does require a technical infrastructure beyond what’s readily available right now.
Jared: Yeah. It’s, it’s good. Cuz obviously I’m listening and thinking, oh man, I could use that.
I could use that. But at the scale that I’m at, maybe a lot of the listeners at it probably doesn’t make sense until you run up against the, the limitations of what, like an Asana, a Trello, all these different, um, kind of more basic management systems offer. Yeah. Okay. That’s good. That’s good clarity. Yeah.
Um, monetization. So how are you monetizing these websites? You’ve talked about ad revenue. You’ve talked about, uh, affiliate revenue. You’ve talked about reaching out to brands what’s what’s monetization, uh, at scale look like with. Lots of different sites, lots of different niches and, and, and a whole lot of to, to manage
Yeah. So it’s a lot to manage. And so that’s why we had to build a monetization team, right. Where they’re really focused. They’re watching that ball, um, while we’re focused on content ops or new opportunities. Um, and so, yeah, it’s affiliate revenue, which is fairly standard. We do some on Amazon historically.
We did a lot on Amazon. Now we do a lot with brands. What that enables us to do is create partnerships and negotiate higher rates and do special promos, just opens up a whole world of possibility. And then we have ad ad networks. We Mediavine ad thrive. Zoic newer media, you know, a lot of good, uh, you know, good networks to have at a lot.
What I like about ad networks is they kind of provide a baseline of incremental revenue across every single page. And so I use our at RPMs as my baseline. Financial modeling assumption for the projections on a site, the affiliate stuff is just gravy, you know, and some of the page level RPMs can get over a hundred dollars with, if you add in affiliate, um, as well, you $150 for some verticals.
So that’s great. And then I think the third part is, yeah, these hybrid kind of like direct placements with a brand kind of, they’re not typically your affiliate managers that you wanna reach out to. You wanna reach out to the marketing teams, which is gonna. Typically a different budget and basically the people that are spending money on television ads, right?
Those are the people you kinda wanna talk to the ad buyers because they operate on a whole different paradigm of brand awareness. Whereas the affiliate managers, typically they’re not inhouse. Sometimes they are, but even if they’re in house, they probably have their own silo. Um, but if they’re not in house, they’re an agency and agencies are, are incentivized by on a, usually on a CPA basis.
There are a lot of things interesting happening on the agency side, where. Like PR and affiliate management are kind of merging, which is great for us. Um, but it’s still not quite there yet. So those are the three things. We do some digital products for some sites. Um, but yeah, we kind of keep it simple. We don’t get overly complicated um, by adding, yeah, too, too many different revenue streams.
Jared: When you work directly with a brand, are you mostly, um, with negotiating, like, you know, a, a private affiliate relationship or maybe taking advantage of that affiliate relationship and then as you grow, maybe, you know, getting higher payouts or are you trying to, you know, get direct ad placement for them on a site, banner ads, other types of monetization,
Ewen: we try everything, right?
It’s it’s easier. Once you have a defined. Brand partner, who’s driving incremental revenue. Um, and you know, you have traffic, it, the CPA increases great, cuz you know, kind of, you can do the pencil at the math and be like, if I get my, if I increase it by 5%, it’s X dollars to me. um, and it’s proven on the brand side cuz we, they know you’re driving themselves.
It’s harder when a, you know, it’s, it’s a random brand who you haven’t worked with or, or something like that. And that’s where we kind of push them more towards, through a placement. You take some risk with us. Um, don’t make us take the risk. Cause a lot of brands will, are happy to leverage the affiliate model because the publisher’s taking all the risk right in producing the content, spending the money up front, getting it ranked.
Um, and then, you know, some affiliate brands are, are, are fly by night too. Like they’ll be there for three months as a growth hack and then they’ll disappear, you know, once they’ve achieved their growth numbers or they need to cut back their churn or whatever. Um, so. So, yeah. You know, generally it’s, um, it’s kind of taking that approach to, uh, to, you know, hybrid approach, but really what’s best for each, uh, for each brand, given your existing history with them.
Jared: As we start to wrap up here, I want to ask about any advantages you see to a model like yours, where you’re starting sites and mass. You’re starting a lot of sites. Um, clearly I think it’s obvious we know the advantages of maybe focusing on just one or just two sites, right? You get a real laser sharp focus.
You get to really, um, you know, move quickly and, and all the advantages that come with that. But what advantages have you seen, uh, at, at scale
Ewen: like this. Yeah, I would say unfair data advantages data is the moat, right? It’s firsthand experience that you don’t need a keyword tool to tell you how to rank.
You have a actual live sites or maybe five or six sites in a vertical that are giving you their listening posts, observation posts. They’re giving you real a real data and feeding it back. And then we call it developing unfair advantages. And then that informs our future site builds and our future reinvestment strategy.
So we under, we create relationships with brands. We have special commission rates. We ha we identify weak points in the market. We build topical authority. We develop, uh, expert level content teams that are, you know, subject matter experts. We create libraries of video and, and super in depth content that all becomes an unfair advantage.
Even if typically the knock on SEO is like, oh, it’s so, you know, so anyone can come in, which is true, but it’s all about creating that big barrier to entry for other, you know, for others. Um, but then also. Following what works. And so, you know, if we get a, if we find an industry we’re getting sweetheart deals, let’s say with affiliate managers, we’ll go out and we’ll say, we’ll, we’ll own multiple gas stations in that neighborhood.
Right. We’ll create more sites or in, and around those verticals where we have those special terms.
Jared: Yeah. That I can imagine. I am a, uh, basically a data. Management major from college. So cool. It just gets me so fired up to think of the amount of data you
Ewen: must get to look well. And that’s what, like moving forward, that’s what we need, right.
We’re we need to move more into that data analytics kinda scaling our team like that.
Jared: Uh, I will tell you, I know a lot of data, uh, data analysts these days. awesome. I’ll reach out the, um, uh, I mean, in, in, as we kind of come to a conclusion here, this has just been wonderful, all the different tips you’ve shared and feel like we’ve really gotten to get a lot out of, of what you’re doing.
It’s, it’s just been amazing. The, um, you know, maybe bring us back to where are some of these sites or incubators at, uh, and any big lessons you’ve learned about starting so many sites? Uh, maybe if you’ve moved on to sell some of them now, what you’ve learned in the sale process, like where, where are these at right now?
And what can you tell us about, about what that looks like?
Ewen: Yeah, I would say like creative chaos, right? It’s like, there’s a lot of wheels turning it’s, you know, sometimes I wish back in the day I could just focus on three sites, you know, there’s certainly value to that, like you said. Um, so I’ve learned a lot about, we talked about like the niche scoping of like, what is the right dose minimum viable dose for the vertical you’re entering, just creating a model, whether that’s around the competition cohort or the, the topical cohort and really zeroing in on, on that, um, fire S in cannibals, I think that lesson can be applied to anyone in any, whether in your personal life or your, uh, you know, or your investing life or your business life or your work life.
Mm-hmm what’s what is the minimum viable, uh, product or dose for any initiative you’re trying to do, whether it’s a new marketing initiative, a new doing email marketing, do whatever, um, What is the data driven sample that you can collect? And so it’s, it’s just like being very empirical, being very conservative to start, but then once you get that signal of like, wow, this weakness here go big.
And so that’s kind of like in certain verticals that we like, right. Uh, finds little data, sets that, uh, and then do some experiments, give you some real data that you can put into projection, but then go big. And I think a lot of times people fail on both sides. They fail. The fire bullets side, they don’t fire enough bullets.
They don’t fire big enough bullets. They don’t, they don’t fire any bullets. They, they just kind of bet on themselves and forget about the data. And then on the other side, they get people, there are people that have, they have fire the bullets, but then don’t go big enough. And so that’s kinda where we’re going with the big thematic portfolios once you have good data go big.
And so I think that would be my big lesson learned is fire bullets than cannonballs for, for anything you’re doing in your business right now, love that.
Jared: What are the plans with, uh, with these incubators, with these sites? We’ve got the, uh, I don’t know what, what you call I’m calling. ’em the 2019 incubator.
Uh, we got the 20, the May, 2021 incubator. We’ve got the November 20, 21 gaming incubator. And these are just the ones I know of from the interview here. What are your plans with them?
Ewen: So I think in the future, we, we, you know, we want, we see a lot of opportunities still. You know, we have thousands of site concepts on the shelf and, and dozens of themes we wanna pursue as a unified portfolio.
So the question for us is, do we keep going, do individual funds, which we is probably our default, um, uh, And, or do we, at some point roll everything together, you know, maybe do do a, a fundraising round kind of become a big media company, uh, at a certain point. And so that’s kind of an open ended question.
I’m not sure what the answer is. It’s really the question of what’s the best economics for everyone and what is yeah. What, you know, can, can this be reintegrate, which I think it can. Um, but for now we’re kind of doing it step by step fireballs and cannibals doing slightly bigger portfolios in different themes.
And then, uh, you know, at some point we may roll them all together, or we may just exit those as unique portfolios, um, kind of remains to be seen. That’s the process work right now. I’m not entirely sure what the future holds. Uh, but I know there’s a lot of, uh, blue sky opportunity for us to kind of tackle.
Jared: The, uh, the, the, the challenge at managing that many sites at scale is, is there, but I’m sure it’s probably harder to grow them than it is to manage ’em once you get ’em successful. So, yes. Um, you’ve, you’ve probably done a lot of the hard work. There’s still a lot of opportunity to, uh, to figure out, but yeah, you’ve probably done a lot of the hard work already here, so figured out a
Yeah, exactly. ,
Jared: I’d love to be in your in your position with, with those challenges, I guess maybe that’s the best way to put it. It sounds like you’ve really cracked the nut on growth and, and now you just gotta figure out what’s next. So, um, woo. All right. Where can people, uh, get in touch with you, keep up with what you’re doing follow along, like, um, where are you, where are you hanging out these days?
Ewen: Sure. I mean, I don’t have like a personal blog, unfortunately. I probably should. Spencer has it, right. He he’s made the right choice there . Um, but I have, uh, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. Um, and then we do have a couple kinda like services. We have, we have, um, content teams.io, which is just like a, we, we help source a content team, uh, for you.
And so that’s kind of a unique offering. It’s not a content agency, um, but it’s like a recruiting, uh, head hunting firm. If you need to find expert writers, expert editors, things like that. That is relatively easy for us. But I found is very difficult for a lot of people. You can reach out book a time, book, a meeting.
Um, if you just want even just free advice, like I don’t care. I’ll meet with you, anyone. Uh, cause I’ve been there. You know, um, yeah, just feel free to reach out LinkedIn or content teams.io and book a meeting. I have a calendar linked there. Um, but yeah, happy to kind of pay it forward and, and talk to anyone in the audience who, who wants to, well, this has been
Uh, I, I definitely know. I could ask, uh, questions for, for hours and hours. Maybe we’ll, we’ll catch up and maybe do a part two in a year or two and see where, where all this is at. But, um, thanks for coming on and thanks for sharing so much. Uh, I, so many people on this that, that listen to this podcast are, are basically website builders, affiliate marketers, you know, uh, side hustlers.
And so to hear the way you’re approaching it, And the way that you’ve cracked scale is, is really great. And even for the people who are listening, who have no aspirations of growing something, this large, there’s just so many gold nuggets that you can learn from people who are doing it at scale, because there’s so many things you’ve learned and figured out that will never maybe see with one tour or, or three sites.
So, so many things that I think that they are here to take from, even if you’re not building or have aspirations of building, um, you know, a lot of, a lot of websites.
Ewen: Yeah, for sure. Awesome. Yeah, it’s good stuff. And, um, thank you so much for doing this by the way. I still listen to the niche pursuits podcast after all these years.
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