He Bought a Site With ZERO SEO Knowledge and 50x’ed Earnings
Brock Yates joins the Niche Pursuits podcast to share his journey of acquiring and growing the website AllTurtles.com.
He acquired the site on Flippa in 2012 for $3,000.
At purchase, the site was a forum with 80,000 pages with thin content about specific turtle species, generating $60 per month.
This all presented a whole new world for him, as he had zero prior SEO and site-building experience.
Fast forward to today and AllTurtles peaks at 150-180,000 page views per month, earning mid-five figures a year.
Brock attributes much of the site’s success to its history, branding, well-rounded content, and some link juice from a large brand’s fun little PR confusion he describes.
He’s largely taken a hands-off approach to content production but still manages to produce quality content. Which he emphasizes is the result of hiring good researchers if you can’t access subject matter experts.
It’s interesting to hear about his mostly outsourced content creation model and his strategy for hiring writers through Upwork.
And its especially interesting to hear how affordable his writing team is, which has stuck with him over a long term.
He also shares insights on content monetization strategy, primarily relying on Mediavine and Amazon Associates, with a 90-10 split in revenue. And Brock highlights how he maximizes ad revenue through content structure and layout, highlighting the importance of ad impressions and reader experience.
He finishes things off with his plans for maintaining the site’s stability and growth, including potential future strategies such as video content, email list building, and improving reader engagement. Enjoy!
Watch The Interview
Topics Brock Yates Covers
- What got him into online business
- How much experience he had before buying his site
- What the site was like at purchase
- How he grew the site
- His ups and downs
- How his turtle site has survived
- Updating content for revenue vs traffic
- Hiring good researchers
- Leveraging experts for ethical reasons
- How he hires shockingly low-cost writers
- His mostly outsourced workflow
- Monetization split and ad revenue tips
- His backlink strategy
- Plans for the future
- And a whole lot more…
Links & Resources
Jared: Okay. All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. And today we’re joined by Brock Yates. Welcome on board, Brock.
Jared: thanks. Good to have you. It’s always great to have, I say this a lot, but it’s always great to have a listener, someone who’s been. Uh, following the niche pursuits, uh, a podcast for a while now.
And, uh, we’ve got a really cool story here. I was just asking at the outset, I didn’t realize you’d owned this website. We’re talking about today for quite so long, but, um, before we get into how you built and grew this website, why don’t you give us some background, catch us up on who you are?
Brock: Uh, sure. So I’m, uh, based in Switzerland.
I have a very wide background. I’ve done everything from bagging groceries to selling cars to changing tires and renting trucks even. So. Got a fair, fair background and, uh, yeah, I kind of just stumbled on, on the, uh, the online investment world.
Jared: It feels like we get a lot of people who land in website building that maybe were like a lawyer before, right.
Or like a journalist, or there’s some reason that seems to introduce them to this. But man, you had like a fair collection of, you know, just good old blue collar jobs. Like what did, what got you into what would be considered like the world of online marketing or digital marketing?
Brock: So I think like everybody, I want money for nothing, you know, everybody’s looking for that passive income.
So back in 2012, I had moved abroad to Switzerland and, uh, I found myself with a little extra capital and I was like, well, I should do something with that. So I started Googling and I stumbled across flippa. com, which is not, not so great anymore, at least for small sites. From what I’ve seen, they’ve kind of pivoted and then, yeah, just kind of randomly.
Started searching for sites and, uh, I stumbled across AllTurtles. And I was like, low competition. It seems like nobody would want to get into that. Why not? So
Jared: I have to ask how much experience you had at building or working on websites before you bought your first website. I mean, I don’t know if all turtles zero, zero, zero.
Okay. So I didn’t want to assume, thought I’d kind of walk into that cautiously, but a cat’s out of the bag. So you had zero experience when you landed all turtles talk about the deal. And I mean, this is a while ago, this is over 10 years ago. You’re right. Like, but I mean, this is kind of wild, wild west of buying websites back then.
Brock: Yeah. So I stumbled across it. It was like 3, 000, more or less somewhere around there. And I think I was making, I don’t know, six, 60 a month. And I was like, well, if I leave 3000 bucks in the bank, I don’t make 60 a month. So, okay. So I just, uh, I bid on it and I don’t remember, I don’t think it was a buy it now.
I think I just won the auction. And then after that it was like, okay, well now I got to buy hosting. So, so then I went and bought some very cheap hosting from iPage. Uh, I don’t even know if iPage exists anymore. And I had, I think like 30 or 40 plugins, you know, I just, I loaded, got the site on there. I think it worked.
I fixed some stuff. Then I loaded it up with plugins and then I had problems with it being slow. And, uh, It was really a journey. I mean, I started doing HTML courses, even though it was based on WordPress and you don’t need HTML at all for that. Um, and it was on AdSense at the time. And on Amazon associates, but I mean, I really knew zero.
So it was really just like starting to, to dig in and figure it out. Step by step
Jared: what was the makeup of the site when you bought it? I mean, you talked about how that was gonna be one of my questions is monetized with AdSense. So, you know, kind of ads on, on the content and then Amazon associates. Which is really popular actually back then.
And then the rates were really, really attractive or well, much more attractive at that time, but like how many, um, how many pages did it have? Was it like an affiliate style website? Was it reviewing things? You know, what would the website
Brock: look like? So actually the site wasn’t. An affiliate or anything of what you would say, like a typical content site is today.
It was somebody who had started the site in 2001. It had a forum with 80, 000 pages. Um, so that had quite a bit of traffic at the time. And then it just had light pages, like when I mean light, like 50 word pages, maybe, maybe 100, 150 pages on the site, something like that. And it was just a specific type of species of turtle.
So you would have, you know, like a page about a red eared slider, which is a very common pet turtle. Uh, and it would just say like, here’s four bullet points about it, two sentences. And like, that was it. Uh, so it was, it was a small site. I mean, it was only getting four, 4, 000 pages or so a month when I, when I took it over.
Jared: boy. That was, I mean, 2012, that was, um, that was probably right around the time I was getting into digital marketing and online. Uh, you know, I’m just learning about the online world. I mean, where were you, were you, were you starting to tune in or, or, or learn from other places? Like, how are you gaining your insights into what to do with this website?
Brock: It’s all really a bit of a blur. I mean, definitely. I think I went across smart passive income for a period of time, but most of my time has actually been spent on niche pursuits. Uh, over the entire time. So I’ve seen Spencer’s site evolve, uh, from, from promoting, you know, like how to use long tail pro to his exit.
And yeah, bought a lot of his services as well along the way because they’re useful. Uh,
Jared: well, let’s, um, I mean, you know, I, I think at this point I want to, I want to kind of keep it open ended, but ask you, uh, you know, like, let’s kind of get into how you grew this site just for framework for when you said it was good about like 4, 000 page views a month.
It was making 60 bucks a month. Um, before we get into how you grew it, I always like to ask, like, if you can, where’s it at today? You know, I mean, geez, 10, 11 years later, what is it doing? Anything you’re comfortable sharing in terms of traffic or, or revenue or just any numbers you’re comfortable with?
Brock: Sure. So it’s a seasonal site. So it typically peaks around the middle of the year. Peak is anywhere from 150 to 180, 000 pages a month. Uh, overall, we’re talking about mid five figures annually, so it’s, there’s not anything huge by any means, but, you know, it’s a nice, nice chunk of change that is fairly passive, right?
You could say,
Jared: wow, well, quite the growth curve to, I mean, from 60 a month, which is, um, under 1, 000 a year in earnings. Um, but I mean, you got a good price for it to be fair, but you know, certainly a very small site that now is earning you mid five figures. So congratulations. That’s a, yeah. Like you said, I mean, that’s a big accomplishment, especially if it’s a kind of a side hustle or something you do on the side.
Yep. Um, well, let’s get into it. Like walk us through some of the steps you took to grow it. Um, any, I mean, I’ve got, we’ve got some notes here that we can get into, but like set the stage for how you went about growing it and, and, and some of the key factors that have led to its growth.
Brock: So to start with, like I said, I really knew nothing.
Uh, I didn’t know anything about keyword research at the time when I acquired it. So then I just started Googling pages on turtles. And taking basically other people’s content and rewriting it. Right. Uh, and then I think as I started to read things, I figured out, Oh, you can actually outsource. So I used text broker and fiber, uh, really terrible writers, uh, you know, 5 for an article.
And then I kind of figured out if I lay out a structure, I get articles back really quickly and they’re actually pretty good. Text broker. I think back then I was paying like 10 an article or something like that, you know, for, I don’t know, five, five, 700 words. Um, as the years progressed, I kind of went through different cycles.
I always had a day job, uh, up until this last year. So it was always a side hustle and I would sometimes work on it. Sometimes not, you know, I’d see a year of growth and then. Be lazy about it. And then in 20, 2018, I had sort of, uh, a failed acquisition on an e commerce thing, uh, and I ended up having to sell all the other sites that I had acquired.
And I just kind of built up a system actually off of an internship that I did with, uh, no hat digital back in 2015, which was like an eight week course. You had four weeks of keyword research and content production, and then four weeks of link building. Uh, so that’s, I would say once I hit that in 2015, that really pushed me forward.
Sorry, I’m jumping on timelines. Uh, and then in 2018, then I, I really, well, like I said, I had to sell all my assets essentially just about went bankrupt at that point. And, uh, yeah, I just started investing all my time and energy into the site, hiring more writers. I moved over to Upwork where it’s the only place that I like to really use anymore.
Mainly for simplicity, uh, because you just have your credit card there from an accounting perspective. It’s, it’s all in one place, right? I don’t have to deal with paying somebody via PayPal or any kind of questions about, you know, do I legally have to consider them an employer or whatever? So I run everything through Upwork.
Um, and that’s, that’s kind of how I’ve built up the production. Also implementing systems, so that’s That’s a big one. And then tracking it with a nice thorough spreadsheet.
Jared: I’m really curious to hear why all turtles was the one you held on to after, you know, all the ups and downs and you know, all the hurdles that you had, especially with having to kind of liquidate or sell off a bunch of them.
Like, was there something special about this site compared to some other ones that you had?
Brock: Uh, probably because it was my first site. Uh, also like the domain. I mean, it’s, it’s a memorable domain. Uh, like when I go to some conferences, it’s like, Oh, it’s the turtle guy. So it’s, I don’t know, I wouldn’t call it a wow factor necessarily, but I, to some degree, I like having that.
That niche recognition in a way. And then, um, yeah, like I said, initially, you know, I produced crap quality content and then as the years went on, I got serious about it. Um, I have a system to produce content like relatively cheaply with pretty much any writer. But then I do also have connections with, um, experienced people in the industry, like herpetologists, for example.
Who can review the content and ensure that it’s giving correct advice because people do actually depend on it when they come to the site. Um, if you give bad advice, you can either make a turtle sick or kill it, which is definitely not the goal.
Jared: Let’s um, let me ask you from a high level, and this might dovetail into some more conversations, but this is an interesting question because I think a lot of the people that.
We talked to on, um, on the podcast, haven’t had the same amount of history with a website that you have. Right. And you kind of addressed it head on, which is the idea that basically the type of content that you needed to rank and say 2015 is very different than the type of content you need to rank today in 2023.
And I’m being very, very generous with that statement, right? It’s almost couldn’t be more opposite, right? The type of content you need, the quality of the content that you need. And you’ve had this website from the beginning of 2012 till now. So you’ve talked about the type of content you used to have on it.
And then the content you produce now, have you had to go back and update a lot of that content? Like what’s that process looked like over the years as content has changed for what the internet needs?
Brock: Uh, yeah. So overall the site, it’s really generally speaking, resilient. It’s not massively impacted. I have a couple of other sites that.
I used similar tactics to build, but we’re impacted, uh, to come back to the question of updating content. Yes, uh, all of that content, like I said from the beginning with, you know, like 100, 200 words or whatever it had has all been expanded on to have several thousand words. Um, most of my content is. You know, I want to say between three and 10, 000 words, uh, with a generous amount of images, generally speaking, uh, process wise, I’ve struggled with this one because I’ve tried taking the content and saying, you know, here, here’s an article and I give it to a writer and then.
I’d say highlight the words, for example, that you, you, um, you added, right? So you can decide how you’re going to pay them because generally you pay by word. But I was never really happy with the content. So a lot of the times the content would be completely just replaced, which, you know, in practice I know is not supposed to be something you’re supposed to do because if it’s ranking on page three, whatever, not page three, if it’s ranking in slot three.
then you really don’t want to do that. Um, oddly enough, I haven’t really seen it impact page rankings. If anything, it, the page just stayed the same. Um, otherwise in terms of expanding, I use expanding more as a way to improve revenue on a page than I do necessarily to improve traffic. It’s easier to squeeze more money out of a page that’s ranking than it is to try and find a way to get an old page that maybe has lost rankings to come back.
Jared: no, it makes sense. You said that you had other sites you built in the same way that didn’t survive or do as well in some of these changing landscape. Like, what is it about all turtles do you think that’s caused it to be pretty flat to grow, to be consistent, to not be susceptible to some of the changes that the other sites you had were?
Brock: I think its history has a lot to do with it because the site’s been around for just so long. On top of that, I do have a federal trademark and a state trademark for the website. Uh, so I think it has a little bit more branding, um, and otherwise it’s also, I think, better well rounded. The other sites, you know, list posts make really good money, or at least they were up until recently on most of the sites.
When I figured that out, I was like, Oh, I’m going to pivot and take all the money that we’re making from all turtles. I’m going to invest it in a new site and just do list posts, which worked very well, but that’s all there is. It’s list posts on those sites. Uh, so I think it’s because it’s unhelpful content by Google’s.
Point of view even though it might be serving some users. They see they’re all the same style There’s not really like any topical authority around everything. Whereas if you look at all turtles, you know, let’s take a rendered slider I have a care guide. That’s like 5, 000 words, but then I also have another 10 15 articles, you know about that specific species So it’s a, it’s a pretty large cluster.
Um, and then also I think one additional thing, which most niche site builders won’t have is there’s a large brand that did a lot of PR and all of the PR agencies are like entrepreneur. com and stuff. They got confused because they use a similar domain. So I got a lot of links that way. So I think that there might be a little bit of link juice there.
A lot of gone away, right? I think that corrected them, but. I saw a huge boost in traffic when they did a, like a TechCrunch interview and stuff.
Jared: I’m guessing you weren’t emailing them telling them that they might have gotten a domain name wrong.
Brock: I was not. No, I was not.
Jared: I mean, two things I heard you say that I think are important is the age.
I mean, what did you say, this site has been around since 2001? Right. Yeah. 2001 and, and been actively worked on since 2001, you know, so it’s not like an age domain that’s been, you know, quote unquote around since 2001, but, you know, hasn’t had a new post on it for 10 years. Like it’s really been pretty active since 2001, which is over 20 years.
And then, um, I mean, the way you built the content, like, it just, from listening to the way you talk about it, it does sound like you really are trying to be, um, a really deep, well rounded repository about turtles, rather than just a, you know, a bunch of listicles, right? And again, that worked until it didn’t.
Uh, for some, it probably still does, but certainly, um, that doesn’t check that same topical authority box that it sounds like the turtle website, AllTurtles, does.
Brock: Yep. Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s, it’s really just about Being as thorough as you can and that’s everybody’s advice, which is annoying to hear But yeah, you know when you have multiple projects and you kind of can compare each different one and you see well generally speaking it
Jared: works So I have to ask we’re 17 minutes in now and I haven’t asked yet, but now’s the time.
Are you a turtle guy?
Brock: You know, I killed a lot of turtles. I really shouldn’t say that on a podcast when I was When I was like 10, 12, we lived in a neighborhood and we had this pond and I was always catching snapping turtles and painted turtles and whatever, and I’d bring them home and then, you know, being a teenager or whatever, something else piques your interest, kind of like being an entrepreneur as well.
And then, yeah, you neglect them. So I don’t own any pet turtles at this point. It’s a consideration I’ve made. Uh. So as I go forward and owning the site, I think maybe I’ll, I’ll move that direction. Uh, but I care about the outcome that’s produced by people reading the content just because I remember how bad of a turtle owner I was.
I mean, and it’s really just because I just wasn’t informed and also the internet wasn’t what it is now.
Jared: Yeah. There probably wasn’t a lot of turtle content back then. No. Uh, so it begs the question, like, especially in a world of these. Uh, core updates and the helpful content update. These, these, these updates that certainly seem to have a plan.
I don’t, I don’t really want to, uh, uh, uh, force you into the, the awkward conversation of how important EEAT is and in the turtle landscape, but certainly the idea of like being able to publish content that is reputable, that is knowledgeable, and that has clearly allowed you to do well through the years and years of changing landscape online.
If you’re not a turtle expert, you don’t even own a turtle. Talk to us about the ways that you are ensuring your content is kind of the best available for turtles without those things being present
Brock: in your life. So I think it comes down to hiring good researchers. If you’re hiring non experts about whatever topic you’re doing, uh, all of my writers, I keep on, on, on the team for longterm.
I mean, I. I really like having the same people working on the same sites over a long period of time because they, they basically learn the topic as they go. So I have one specific writer for all turtles who I’ve had him for almost four years now and I’ve even tried to switch them to other sites and he’s like, no, I just want to stay working on turtles.
Because he understands that. His background is that he, uh, was going to school to be a lawyer, so his research is really on point. His writing style is okay, uh, it’s improved over the years, but then you can have editing to fix that. I mean, that’s, that’s just what we do. So I have a writer, and then I have an editor afterwards who goes through and kind of fixes any flow issues.
And then when you talk about medical pages, um, you know, I’m talking about medical, metabolic bone disease, for example, you know, we, we have a partner, herpetologist who will review the content or who also has written a lot of the important guides on the site. So for, for pages that can be general, I think just having somebody who’s a good researcher, uh, and thorough and with references and everything, I think that can be enough, uh, when you start getting into serious.
Things, you know, health related, whether that’s for human sites or animal sites, uh, then, then I think you need a subject matter expert to review it. Not necessarily for EEAT, but for the ethics of it. I mean, you don’t want to be giving out crap advice, uh, for anybody that’s gonna possibly affect any kind of life.
Jared: The, I mean, it’s worked out well for you. You know, it’s almost funny. Like, um, again, I feel like Spencer, I have to navigate all these, these topics every week in the weekly news podcast we do, and we’re always kind of tiptoeing around it. Cause everyone gets, you know, a little flustered about it. But you know, I feel like Google’s big stance right now is, you know, kind of people first content.
Right. And, but they’re asking us not to come at it from an SEO standpoint. And just hearing what you said, you’re kind of like, yeah, I. I get all these turtle experts involved because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s what my readers would want. So that’s what I do and go figure your website’s doing well, but anyways, I’ll leave that there.
Um, let’s talk about, um, what’s the cadence of content right now? Like catch us up maybe to 2023 and beyond. Like what are you doing on the site as we speak right now? Like, uh, in terms of new content, in terms of updating old content, in terms of, you know, haven’t got into backlinks yet. I want to ask you about that.
Um, uh, you know, like what’s a, what’s a, what’s a week in the life of all turtles look like?
Brock: Uh, so, so right now we’re producing, uh, four articles a month, so not very much. Uh, but we’ve got a backlog of 40 articles in the drafts waiting to be posted and the editor, he’s posting three articles a week in terms of updating content, uh, I’m updating, uh, between three and five articles a week.
I’m using rank IQ for that. Uh, really specifically for the keywords. That’s, it’s a nice, simple. It’s market news on a budget, I would say, uh, if you’re familiar with market news, which I’m sure you are. Uh, so that’s kind of the cadence for the site. The other sites I’ve stopped production on, uh, but they, they both also have a large backlog of content.
Um, basically, like I said, I was pouring a lot of money in, into growing those three sites. And, uh, then after the, the two got hit, I kind of decided, well, we probably should pull back on the other two and then just focus on the main breadwinner. When it
Jared: comes to, um, your new content, uh, again, just curious to lean into some of the things you’ve already talked about, um, uh, and some of this is going to be a recap of what you’ve already said, are you, are you basically kind of doing keyword research, coming up with topics, and then determining based on the topic depth, whether a more generic writer can write it, or whether A subject matter expert writer can write it.
Um, are you doing article briefs for them? How involved are you? I mean, I know you said in our notes that this is pretty outsourced. So I’m kind of curious to get a little more detailed about it. Cause I, a lot of people are short on time and, uh, with the impetus growing that you need to really produce really high quality content, right?
Like I think a lot of people are gonna be interested to hear how you’re doing that. Uh, in a mostly or fully outsourced model.
Brock: Yeah. Uh, so I’m pretty, pretty hands off. I just pick the topic. Uh, no, I don’t give outlines, but I do give a standard operating procedure, a writer guideline, which tells the writer how to write the content.
Um, but from there, I really, I really, really don’t do much. The trick, what I’ve found over the years is really hiring, uh, and filtering through the, um, like on Upwork, you could post a job. It’s not as good as it used to be used to be able to get, you know, really a lot of people applying, you can still get, you know, I don’t know, 50 50 applicants and of those, then it comes down to just filtering and the filtering is not really very hard.
Uh, for me, what I do is I filter by 90 percent success rate or above, and then from there, you just look at what the people wrote for your screening questions, your screening questions can be, I mean, for me, I always ask specific questions about turtles. Uh, and one, I ask the same thing every time is what is herpetology?
Now, I know you can go to Google and you can copy and paste an answer. It’s not what I’m looking for. So I just look to see how does the person answer it? Uh, is it, is it a really scientific answer? Or does it look like, like they gave their interpretation of what herpetology is? And then I ask a few more screening questions.
And, um, the, the goal is really to see how do they write. If I say, have you written content about turtles before? And they say, yes, you’re out because your job as a writer is to write. So that’s kind of how I filtered. Um, and as long as they’re answering those screening questions, you can already tell they can write or they can’t write if you’re filtering for native English, or if you’re filtering for French or German or whatever.
You’ll really quickly discover if they can write in a language or not. And then from there I hire them on. Of course you always pay for projects. Uh, I always hire at 10 per thousand words initially, uh, which is one cent a word. And then I just see what the first article’s like. Generally I pay them at one and a half cents a word.
And, uh, from there I just copy and paste it and put it in WordPress. And then I let the editor do their job. And then the editor will tell me this content sucks or it doesn’t. I Editing, reading, all of that, it’s not really my thing, generally speaking. I more enjoy the operational aspect of it, the structuring of things.
Um, but yeah, I let the writer write based on the guidelines that are provided. And then I let the editor edit based on how they want to edit. Let’s
Jared: talk about your editor. Where, where did you, how many others do you have? Where did you find them and how involved are they? Are they making a lot of changes or is it more just kind of like a double check?
Brock: It’s, uh, so I just have one editor, uh, and I had one editor before, uh, and they were writers for me, both of them. And then I have a, I basically have a four part training that teaches them how to be an editor. I mean, be an editor from the standpoint of how to format content for SEO with the heading tags, where to, what.
inserting pictures, inserting internal links, inserting affiliate links, um, ads. Obviously they don’t need to think about it because we’re using media buying. So that’s programmatic. Uh, but like I said, from a, from a team perspective, I always like to keep people on for the longterm. I like to work with people.
I like to build a relationship. Um, to where, you know, they understand the website, they care about the website, they care about the reader and what they’re getting and really adding value. So that’s kind of where the writer and the editors, they’re both from the same thing, basically.
Jared: Most people hearing this are going to think to themselves, wow, Brock has figured out how to get content for much cheaper than I have.
Um, and, uh, so asking the question that maybe a lot of listeners are having right now, like what’s the, um. What’s like the secret sauce to getting good content out of, uh, you know, a writing team like yours that isn’t getting paid as much as others tout that they need to pay writers to get good content out of?
Brock: Uh, consistency goes a long way for the, the contractors. So that’s always been a big thing. So if I come back to the start of it, it’s hiring well at the beginning. If they don’t write well, well, just let them go, you know, I mean, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out. You can be nice about it, of course, uh, or you can give them a chance and you can train them, it’s, it’s up to you.
But generally speaking, if the first two, three articles aren’t good, or to your liking, you gotta let them go and, and replace those writers with somebody new. The next is standard operating procedures, which, it’s a fancy word for a Word document that just It just gives a basic outline of how content should be written, plus some examples.
If it’s a writer, they should be able to figure out how to structure content. Um, the optimization part, the SEO part you can do after, but if you try to cram in the SEO part, I’ve tried it. I’ve tried giving keywords. I’ve tried doing outlines. It just, it always comes out weird. They miss a bunch of keywords.
So it’s easier just to, to give them a guideline, give them a topic, let them write. That’s what writers do. They’re writers. And then structure it and optimize it afterwards. Um, sorry, I’m rambling here, so I forgot the last part of the question or did I hit them all?
Jared: I think you hit it all. I’m just, I, I guarantee you that a lot of people are thinking like, Hey, how does Brock do that?
How does he get so much value out of, uh, you know, content writers that a lot of people would say are lower price than what they’re paying their content writers. And it sounds like you’re saying SOPs, um, clear guidelines, clear structure, um, and regular work and regular work, treating them right, treating them fair and giving them consistent work.
Brock: Yep. Okay. Fair enough. That about sums it up. Fair enough.
Jared: Monetization. And you mentioned that you’re making mid five figures a month, uh, a year. Sorry. I think you said five figures a year, actually. Yep. Um, uh, like how does that break down? You mentioned Mediavine at the very beginning, you said the site was set up on associates.
Like what’s the breakdown now look like for how the site makes its money?
Brock: It’s a 90 10 split, so 90 percent Mediavine, 10 percent Amazon, give or take, depending on the month. Uh, I’ve tried other affiliates, however, the downside to having a less competitive niche is there’s a lot less affiliates. Um, I’ve tried a few sites.
I do have another partner website that I work with as an affiliate, but We’re, we’re talking peanuts here. I had one that, that worked well, but then when it came time to pay, they, they wouldn’t pay even after sending demand letters and threats and, and all of that. But then you just write the debt off and forget about it and move on because it just wastes too much energy.
So I, I just went back to only Amazon associates, took away all their links. And, uh, I prefer having consistency like a writer. You know, I want to know. Am I getting paid regular regularly and where’s it coming from? And yeah, it’s, it’s seems to be the best option for the time
Jared: being. Yeah. The, um, when it comes to Mediavine, uh, since 90 percent of your income comes from ads, any things you’ve learned along the way to help kind of maximize, whether it’s your RPMs or, or the amount of money that you make each month from them.
Brock: Yep. So I mentioned earlier articles are between, you know, three, three and 10, 000 words. Give or take, depending on what page, uh, images help breaking up paragraphs, most paragraphs to not technically paragraphs, but I mean, you know, one, one or two sentences, it’s enough. So the more ways you can break up the content, it gives them more chances for ad impressions, adding bullet point lists, adding long images, having a fixed ad at the bottom, removing the X, uh, this will also increase your impressions video, although.
You don’t really have to do video so much anymore because they’ll, they’ll insert video for you, but it doesn’t hurt. Uh, so that, that would be the basics of it. I mean, it’s, and then larger font, you know, 20 point font, for example. It depends on the theme as well. So you can’t just put 20 point on any theme because it may not look right.
So yeah, it’s a, you need to also look at your content and see, well, how does it look? Does it look easy to read? Does it look spacey? Does it look, you know, is it too bright? Is it too dark? Depending on if you’re using different backgrounds. Uh, that, that would be the advice I’d say for optimizing for ads.
Jared: You said remove the X. Can I ask you what you mean by that? I just jotted it
Brock: down. Ah, yeah. So at the, generally speaking, you’ll have a banner at the bottom of the site. It’ll pop up at the bottom. And then most of the time there’s a little X that you can click to close that as a, as a reader. But as a publisher, I don’t want you to close that because the longer it stays there gives another chance for an ad impression.
So the more ad impressions you can get. The higher RPM you can get, and ultimately the more revenue you can make. At scale, you know, if you’re talking about 100, 200, 000 visitors, then that starts to make a difference.
Jared: Interesting. I did not even know you could uncheck that, actually. That’s great to hear. Um, let me ask you a bit about seasonality.
Uh, I didn’t know turtles were seasonal, right? Kind of, you know, but I guess they are. Like, how have you managed seasonality? What is the in season? Is there anything you’re doing to maximize that, or you just kind of roll with the punches, and the good seasons are what they are, and the slow ones are just slow?
Brock: Yeah. So you have a peak, you know, in April, April, May. And if you think about it, it just goes with the weather. So generally speaking, turtles are present in the United States, particularly in the Midwest. So springtime around April, May, everything’s starting to warm up. The animals are coming out. People are out.
They’re trying to figure out, you know, what, what’s this turtle in my backyard? Or what’s this turtle on a, on a walk? Uh, and that’s primarily the types of visitors that the site has. It’s people that are trying to identify what kind of turtle species they have. And then. From there, they maybe get an interest and then they get a pet.
Uh, so from a seasonality perspective, I know those are going to be the most profitable months. Generally speaking, it is a steady site throughout the year. It’s just, those are the peak months, and then it’s kind of a little bit less as the year goes on, which again, makes sense if you understand who’s visiting the site, and then what region the animals are specific in.
You don’t have turtles really in Europe so much, um, it’s not, it’s just not a thing here. So it’s really centric in the United States, particularly in the Midwest. Also, then you have tortoises and stuff, but not, not to get too much into the details, but yeah, it’s, uh, that, that would be why there’s kind of the seasonality.
Jared: my, uh, my last company, I traveled a lot for, for work. I run a marketing agency now, but my last business, I was on the road, uh, a decent amount. And one of the vendors who I would travel with a lot would, uh, own I don’t remember how many, two, three, four tortoises. He lives in Arizona. The stories were fascinating, I’ll tell ya.
I mean, it was a great time to sit with him and, and just hear the latest tortoise story. So, um, he was saying, this is random, he was saying that an owner of a tortoise, uh, at least he mentioned that he had to put it in his will because they’re, they’re one of the few animals that routinely outlives their owners.
And so that, they have to have a plan of attack for what happens if they die before their tortoise. Anyways,
Brock: funny story. Yeah, turtles and tortoises generally speaking with good care. I mean typical, you know, 30, 30 years for a Aquatic turtle let’s say and then a tortoise, you know can be 100 150 years. So
Jared: Well, that’s thinking ahead.
You got to make sure you know what you’re signing up for which is why allturtles. com is a great probably a good good At least in theory, a good place to go. Um, hey, so we haven’t talked yet about it, but I want to ask about backlinks. Um, I mean, this is a site that when you bought it was already over a decade old.
Which can be, you know, many things, right? It could mean that you have a lot of great backlinks that you’ve acquired over time naturally. It could also mean that the site’s littered with links that you don’t really want. Um, or that you have to, that you have to inherit from someone who was building the site before you.
What was the state of the backlink profile when you got the site? I’ll be at, you probably didn’t know much about backlinks at the time. And then talk about the backlink journey and process you’ve gone through since then.
Brock: Uh, so overall, uh, we, we have no backlink plan in place. Uh, true. When I bought the site backlink, no idea what it was, even for several years after owning the site, no idea what backlinks were.
Now, I mean, really, I just rely on the site being well seasoned and then I use internal linking. So new pages will get linked to from existing content, which generally speaking has external links coming in already. And that’s pretty much the the linking strategy. Otherwise, we do infographics like on Pinterest.
Um, although the niche doesn’t really perform well on Pinterest, but We have infographics that, uh, that people can take. There’s some government and some educational sites that also use the content and kind of link back, but it’s all, you know, organic. It’s, it’s not me reaching out. I have tried in the, in the beginning, maybe one or two years in, I paid a link service to insert some links, but I didn’t even know what I was signing up for, paying for it, to be honest.
Uh, and then a couple of years ago, we did some additional link building just to test it out and that that didn’t really seem to move the needle. So I, I just feel like with the site being so well established, I don’t even bother with link building, uh, that that may or may not change in the future.
Well, I mean, I was just looking at it over before we got on. I mean, you have links from Wikipedia, wikiHow, New York times. Um, you’re also mentioned, um, in a lot of Reddit forums. Uh, you’ve got like kind of more of those foundational crunch based style links. Like did those all just come in
Brock: organically? Yep.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s really all. So before creating long form content was a thing. I don’t even remember when I did this, maybe 2014. I, I paid a guy like 30 an hour back then to write guides. And he wrote just massive guides and those attracted some really good links back then. So maybe part of it was like being in the right place at the right time for that.
Although you could argue that I didn’t do enough to take advantage of it, but that’s another thing.
Jared: Yeah. Hindsight’s 20, 20, right? Um, I, I, I mean, I’m looking over a lot of the things that we wanted to talk about and I do feel like we’ve touched on a lot of them, I guess maybe from a high level, like taking a step back and I sort of asked this earlier, but.
Um, for people listening who have had a site that’s been impacted with negatively over the last year or so, you have had sites impacted negatively. And I know we touched on a little bit, but just from a high level, like starting to circle the wagon here, what is it about all turtles you think that kind of makes it unique and special?
And then, um, what are your plans for it going forward?
Brock: Uh, what makes it special is I’ve been extremely protective of the site. I don’t accept guest posts. I don’t do link insertions, which I’m sure anybody with a site gets tons of those where people are offering money. I do sponsored stuff, but only if it’s relevant.
So I think it’s special because I’ve really put a lot of effort to keep the site on topic. You know, people have told me, why don’t you make it about reptiles? The domain is all turtles, so it covers turtles, tortoises, and sea turtles. And that’s it. And I know the niche is only so big. But that’s the niche we want to cover and that’s the niche we’re going to focus on.
And I think that is probably why it’s survived the majority of the algorithms. I mean, honestly, you know, okay, we see 10, 10, 20 percent fluctuations here and there, but that’s nothing compared to, I have another site that had a 70, might be 80 percent decline after the latest update. So it’s been a stable site.
I’ve made an effort to keep it only about turtles and so on. And I think that’s what What probably the value is along with an old site with a lot of links from various, uh, publications.
Jared: Yeah, it’s so interesting, right? When you kind of, and you talk to people like this who have say several websites and they’re building them in much the same way.
And then, you know, a big update comes out and one of them gets, uh, uh, affected vastly differently than the other one. And you kind of have to scratch your head a bit, but there’s so many intangibles that go into building a site that it’s not just about the things you’re doing, but it’s also about, um, the niche, uh, the competitors.
Uh, uh, you know, about how it’s landing in the space you’re doing, how well and how effective it is, um, how much you’re engaging the audience with one site versus the other. There’s so much that goes into it. So what, um, what, what’s the plan going forward? Like, are you, uh, you’ve held on to the site for 11 years now.
I mean, are you going to just keep, um, uh, keep on the turtle train for a while? Uh, any plans to potentially sell or just, uh, I’m curious to hear what you, what you’re going to do with it going forward.
Brock: Uh, I’ve, I’ve dabbled with the idea of selling it. Um. It’s definitely a consideration I’ve had, uh, not because I necessarily want to get rid of it, but, you know, if an offer is good, then Then maybe I’ll consider selling it going forward.
Uh, I’m operating it. Like I plan on keeping it for the longterm. I mean, either way, if I sell it or I don’t sell it, the site will go with a writer and with an editor, you know, as a self sufficient machine, essentially. Uh, but it’s also if you stop working on things, they eventually die. Um, generally speaking, there’s, there’s of course exceptions to the rule, but in the content world every day, there’s another competitor.
Uh, if you talk about turtles, okay, maybe there’s less competitors unless private equity money coming in to compete in that space. But there’s still another turtle guy creating videos on tick tock somewhere that maybe it’ll steal your traffic. Take your traffic, earn your traffic, whatever you want to say.
Uh, so longterm will be just to continue covering those pages that are ranking for keywords that don’t have independent pages, uh, creating more content and then trying to grow our email list, uh, improving reader experience and yeah, finding a way to, to, to keep the life cycle of the reader longer.
Jared: That was going to be my final question.
Like you’re, you’re focused on website stuff. You’re focused on content building, but any, any future plans for video content, a YouTube channel, an email list. More focus on Pinterest et cetera, et cetera.
Brock: Yep. So we have a YouTube channel that we’ve started to put content on, uh, primarily AI content for the moment, which works really decently, uh, at least for shorts for the longer form content.
I think you can’t get around it. You’re just going to have to, or I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go and either do it myself or have somebody film some turtles and tortoises and create some sort of story for videos in order to make it a real. Um, a real channel and then, uh, email, I think, you know, finding a way to control your, your user base or reader base is really the important thing.
I think any more, uh, Google building what there’s a saying, like if you build on shaky ground, you know, it’s just not gonna, it’s not gonna last for the longterm. You gotta have a good foundation. So. Google can take that away at any time, just as Amazon can and has over the years. Uh, so it’s important to be able to own your customers as much as possible.
Jared: Well, Brock, thank you for coming on. I’ve really enjoyed this one because it’s just been, it’s always fun to talk to someone about a single site and their, their story of growth, right? But I also really love that you’ve had this site for so long. That’s pretty unique, but also that you bought this site with zero knowledge.
I want to just. Double down on that for everyone listening, like this is a great success story and, um, and not like a flash in the pan success story, which not to take any success away from those, but occasionally we’ll talk to people who will almost play arbitrage with a site and do well. This is not arbitrage.
This is you, um, getting into something, knuckling down and learning, uh, how to make it work and how to grow. And you’ve been doing it for 11 years. It’s super encouraging, especially for people listening who maybe are sitting on the sidelines, feeling uncomfortable about diving in. Um, so I mean, any final words from you, but for, we, uh, before we sign off here,
Brock: you know, just, just keep going.
Uh, if you get hit in the face, just get back up and keep going. That’s, that’s pretty much life in place.
Jared: Boy. And I, I’m sure a lot of people in 2023 who have, uh, who have experienced that. So, Hey, where can people, um, where can people follow along with you and what you’re doing, any place you can direct them?
Brock: Sure. Uh, if you want to get in touch with me, you can go to broccoli. org. Uh, so that’s B R O C K L Y dot O R G. Um, I’m going to be selling the content process thing, at least the setup. So for people that don’t know how to produce content or just want to kind of jump in and have a process, it’s easy.
Jared: Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on Brock. It’s been great to have you. Been a pleasure.