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EXECUTION I Took 6-Months off the Forums. Here's What I Accomplished

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by JM35, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Towards the end of 2018 and the beginning of the new year I was in a big reading kick. I was reading a lot of books (millionaire fastlane, tim ferris, the subtle art, etc.) but was also spending a lot of time reading around here on the forums and other places on the web.

    From M-F I worked a lot (and unfortunately still do). I would get home at 7 or 8 and then maybe workout, and would get some reading in before heading to bed.

    The reading was giving me ideas and motivation, but then I would go to sleep, have a long day the next day and need that motivation again the next night. Rinse and repeat.

    What I realized was that all the reading was stopping my execution. I had to remove myself from reading about other people's stories to start building my own. But, then I had to find my motivation elsewhere.

    Once you get in a cycle and can actually see the benefits of the work you're putting in; the process, and the knowing that the process generates results, becomes the motivation.

    And thankfully, I think I've just reached that point. It's been ~6 months or so since I've been actively engaged on here. I had always wanted to start a progress thread (but didn't have enough progress), so I figured this would be the ideal time.

    In my 6-months off, here's what I executed on:

    I grew my niche content blog from $65 profit/month to $400-500/month

    Honestly...I've only written 2 posts in 2018 (March and April), but I spent a ton of time working on monetization and optimization. I learned that quality is really all you need in a niche industry. I made a to do list, put a deadline on items, and executed. If it didn't work, I tried something else. Here is what I was able to accomplish.
    • Traffic grew from 7.5k uniques (Feb 2018) to 22.8k uniques (Jul 2018)
    • Grew from 250 email subs to now over 1,200
      • Implemented a 6-email drip email campaign which is running at a 53% open rate and 20% click rate
    • Was originally only using Adsense and Amazon as monetization. Now the site uses: Amazon, Adsense, eBay Partner, CJ Affiliate, and Private Advertisers.
    Here are my next steps with this project:
    • NEW CONTENT (it's been awhile). Need to find someone to outsource the content writing to since it usually takes me ~6-8 hours to write a quality post
    • Add on to my drip email series. I have 4 ideas for good emails that I need to execute on
    • Publish a free e-book. I've been saying I would do this for awhile. I have 80% of the content from already published blog posts, I just need to generate the rest, format it, and fine tune it

    I am 80% of the way to launching my first FBA product

    As my blog grew consistently, so did my Amazon revenues. I started to notice that we consistently sold 10+ units of one single product per month. The product was ~$100 and had stupid shipping fees of $15+. I thought..."it's Amazon, no one wants to pay $15 for shipping." So I looked into it and realized that I could get a 99% similar product made for <$50. I am one supplier away from sending the product to Amazon and profiting $25/sale, plus the commission I get for referring the sale. Because I consistently sell 10+ of these a month, I am confident I can make $250+ (with a lot more upside) per month by getting my own product on FBA.

    Next steps for my FBA project:
    • Source this last supplier!!! The small order size has been the biggest hiccup in this process. Going to try to find a local supplier who might be more willing
    • Need to educate myself more on how to actually package products and send them to Amazon for FBA. I don't have any experience so I'm not sure what my best route is

    I launched an online business brokerage (saleaway.co), signed up my first $150k deal, and was accepted to Flippa's broker program

    Sorry for the plug on this one and staying secretive about the one above :clench: I have a background in technical and transaction-oriented finance (day job - see my next bullet). But also have a passion for online business...and so I thought, why not put those two together?

    Welp, this is the result! It's something I had wanted to start for awhile but...had just never executed on.

    I had had the concept down for awhile, which made it easier, but I was able to launch this and get the first client (~$150k ecom store) signed up to sell within 3-weeks.

    To-do on this:
    • Ramp up marketing...paid ads, SEO, content creation, etc.
    • Continue to reach out to business owners to generate leads
    • Button-up the functionality of the website. It's on the minimal side right now and eventually would like to have a full buyers platform, etc.

    Left JPMorgan to join a Private Equity (buyside) firm

    If you're familiar with the finance industry, the ultimate goal for most is to get to the buyside. The hours are better, the work is cooler, and the money is fatter. Well, after just one year, I was able to make it to the buyside. I really put my pencils down on everything entrepreneurial during this time, and spent one and a half to two months zeroing in on this opportunity (studying, networking, etc.).

    It's paid off. I enjoy what I do - I get to work with businesses, just on a bigger scale than I do in my free time.

    I flipped a website for a 25% profit

    I wouldn't ever consider myself a website flipper...I am more of a buy and hold type of guy - generate monthly income. That was the plan at least, but I bought a site at the beginning of the year. A better way to put it is I "won" a site at the beginning of the year, on Flippa. Just last week, after maybe putting 4-5 total hours in on the site, one of the guys I outbid to win it on Flippa came in and offered to buy it for 17% more than I had paid for it. That plus the income it made me during the time I owned it resulted in a 25% return.

    I started v2 of my niche blog network

    I started a second niche blog, which is very similar to the one I was talking about at the beginning of this. I spent 10 hours writing two, very high quality, posts on it that were 2,000+ words, and let it "marinate". Three months later, it's getting 1,500 unique hits, 100% from organic traffic. Hoping to make this as big and profitable as my niche blog above!

    Conclusion

    This was a long post, and by the end of it I realized...this is a little bit of a "hey look what I did" or "look at my lamborghini, where is yours?" type of post. But, writing it has motivated me even more to push one step further and I hope it makes some of you realize the potential you have if you put your head down on something and actually execute on it.
     
  2. ChrisV
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    ChrisV Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Nice! Congrats.
     
  3. Anandb
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    Anandb New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Great job man. Looks like you're on the path. Couldn't be happier reading something like this.
     
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  4. ZCP
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    ZCP Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    What are your 2018 goals? what will you do next?
     
  5. jpmartin
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    jpmartin Jedi Master I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Many spend too much time on the forum, instead of actually doing stuff. Do and learn, leverage from other's mistakes (not opinion) - imho is the best way forward. I'm watching these progress threads, as that's where the doers are... the rest is as MJ puts it mental masturbation.

    Congrats! I've work for buyside, more than a decade now, so welcome! Yes, it's more paced than IB. You get to see more of what happens with fastlaners.

    This is a great move! I think it gels well with your PE job. Do you do a full review of the website/companies before listing them there? I've thought about this, but wouldn't people just go to flippa, what's your USP?

    Since you're in the space, what are thoughts on domain selling? (I regret having let go of wn.io - which is now being listed for $30K plus). But I still own a couple of domains, and looking for some help selling them. I just feel domain brokerage is easier than website brokerage. The only thing is the numbers could be smaller, nevertheless no hassle.
     
  6. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    ZCP, good question...here are the big things I'm hoping to tackle by EoY 2018:

    • Launch FBA product and get my blog to 40k uniques, grow profits from the combined two to $1k+
    • Get my 2nd niche blog to 15k uniques and $300+/month
    • Close $500k of website deals
    • $1.5k/month of purely passive online income (excluding income from brokerage business)
    • Launch (75% of the way there) a blog on looking at websites and online businesses as investment strategies (buy and hold/income stream investing). And hopefully start a youtube channel around this as well
    Basically, I've got a lot of writing to do before year end!
     
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  7. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    We're taking more of an investment banking approach to selling websites, so yes we run a full review/vetting process prior to listing them. We then build ~20-30pg marketing deck for each business. So we put a lot of time into the process to take work off the seller's hands, but also the buyers hands since we do all of the due diligence prior to listing a site.

    There are a ton of listing sites out there, but most of them provide zero value-add to buyers. And the only value-add they provide to sellers is having a platform that has a lot of active buyers. We're a partnered broker with Flippa, so we can list your business for the same 12% fee that Flippa would charge you, but give you the value of running the whole process for you, building a book, dealing with buyer questions, etc. It's a no-brainer if you can get all of those services for the same fees you would be paying anyways.

    There are other more boutique brokerages out there, like Empire Flippers (not sure if they are really boutique anymore with the huge growth that they've been having), but they don't provide a significant amount of value-add outside of their buyer list, either. They do verify traffic, revenues, and profits, so a buyer can at least buy with some confidence, but they don't do any other due-diligence and they don't provide any materials on the business. When you put down the 5% deposit with them, all you get is the domain name. And their fees are 15% for anything less than $1M. That's a pretty significant fee for only verifying the financials and giving a domain name.

    So we are really focusing on providing full-service support for both buyers and sellers. We want our platform and process to be more friendly to first-time buyers and new guys in the industry. We look at all the businesses as if we were going to invest in them, and we specifically lay out all the risks or concerns with the business, but also sell the upside potential/opportunity.

    As for domains...I haven't really spent much time in the space. Domains are more like VC rather than PE, if I were to make a comparison. Valuations are more subjective because it really depends on what the buyer can do with the domain. It's also a very competitive/watered-down space, since like you mentioned, it takes very little time to list a domain. Anyone can list a domain, but it takes a bit more business and financial knowledge and process knowledge to be able to value and objectively sell a business.
     
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  8. ZeroTo100
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    ZeroTo100 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for sharing.

    Since you’ve posted, I’ll go ahead and take a stab at some questions lol.

    The current niche site you’re running...Can you elaborate on niche selection? Coming from a finance background, I’d like to hear a little bit more about that and the early stages of the business. How long after your launch did it take to earn your first $1? I’ve seen cases where it takes owners a year to gain good traction in the eyes of google. Generally, these sites do sell for a higher multiple BUT they take a long time to earn - if they ever do at all. (Not interest in what niche you’re in, just curious to learn about how and why you chose the niche you’re in). You using a PBN?

    A friend of mine is in the business of creating affiliate sites and builds a new site every month. He’s at around 60% success rate which is rather high for these types of seo style sites. For him the math makes sense but he started earning a few years back when it was a little easier to rank. For anyone new going into this business, it seems like you really need to have that cash to burn in case a year later you find out google just doesn’t like the site. Have you had any experience like this?

    Do you plan on incorporating any systems in place such as outreach, web dev, writing etc and can you go into some detail about what kind of team you’ll structure around this?

    In reguards to EF, I actually like the way they do business. They do provide materials and they also provide information like whether a seller is using a PBN or not. As a buyer though, they do tend to hit my phone up A LOT! Sometimes it’s a pain in the a$$. It’s important to know that you’re taking on a lot of responsibility in doing validation for buyers/sellees and if something slips through you’re opening yourself up.

    Are you in NY?

    Good luck with everything and congrats on your progress thus far.
     
  9. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    My niche sites are in the Automotive industry - I ran a bmw parts dropshipping business for 4 years and have always been a big car guy, so I have personal insight/knowledge on the things I write about.

    I do own a couple generic car brand sites (one for Chevy Trucks and one for Porsche) but my money makers are a lot more niche. Rather than focusing on brands or car models, I am a lot more targeted, and focus on specific engines. And then I write, sophisticated in-depth posts around that specific engine. My average post length is probably somewhere around the 3k+ range.

    I launched the site in June 2017 and got it to where it's at now solely from organic traffic. It has probably 20-25 posts on it. I focused on writing high quality, in-depth content, and google picked it up and it now ranks in the top 1-3 for all the big search terms in the niche.

    The tough aspect is it takes me probably 6-8 hours to write each post, and I don't necessarily trust someone to outsource it to (although my brother wrote probably half of them) so its somewhat labor intensive to start. But once it gets rolling, it just keeps going. I haven't written a post since April, and revenues from then till now went from $250 --> $500 and traffic has consistently trended upwards every month.

    I don't use a PBN and I don't really have any plans of ramping up scale on these sites (until I can find a content writer) since producing fresh content takes more time than I'd like and my brokerage business is my main focus now. On-top of working 70 hour weeks for my day-job.

    EF is a great business, no-doubt. I just don't think it's overly new-buyer friendly. I haven't looked at any websites from them >$100k so maybe they do have more built-out materials for those ones.

    In regards to responsibility...we spend a lot of time doing our own due diligence and vetting the businesses, but at the end of the day, we don't take legal responsibility or make any guarantees as to the performance of the business. We simply help buyers with the due-diligence process and act as an intermediary to help the two parties structure a deal.

    I'm in the Houston area, but fortunately at one the few non-energy PE shops in the area! Thanks, happy to share more on any of it, I'm not too secretive with the sites I run, just being a little more cautious until I get my FBA product up.
     
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  10. A. Rodriguez
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    A. Rodriguez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    What's your Backlinking Strategy?
     
  11. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I really don't spend any time building inorganic back links. I do have some backlinks from car forums, where I just put my link in the signature of my posts. I also wrote one guest post. Other than that, every link is organic. You'd be surprised how many times people will just naturally link to you if you write quality content and show up at the top of google.

    On the 2nd niche site I created, I did 0 link building. No forum links, no guest post, nothing. And it's first page of Google now within 4 months of me registering the domain. I can't stress enough how high quality content is the most important aspect of ranking well in Google. You just have to take the time and put in the work to create the content.

    I'll share a little bit of my secret sauce here:

    You don't have to recreate the wheel. A lot of the things that I write aren't "proprietary" in nature. In the automotive industry, forums are the big thing. They have tons of content, and tons of really good content. But, naturally, forums don't rank really well and you usually have to go through multiple threads to find all the answers you need. So what do I do?

    I go on forums, filter the threads by the most viewed - and voila, I just found the topic for a blog post. I then read that post, and do research to find the most comprehensive amount of information about that topic. I then write a post that includes everything I was able to find. If you wanted to get all that information without my blog post, you would have to have read like 6 or 7 other threads, plus Google other articles, etc. Of course I create original content; never copy/paste anything.

    So I've taken a post that ranks well in Google and has gotten hundreds of thousands of hits, and then write something better than it, knowing that Google will rank my site higher than the forum thread.

    But really the starting point is being so niche that forums rank on the top page of Google. Meaning there are virtually no other blogs or content sites out there writing about the same stuff you are.
     
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  12. rollerskates
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    rollerskates Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I should take a hiatus and get my butt in gear.
     
  13. Dunkafelics
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    Dunkafelics Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Excellent job I'll give you a pat on the back for this one

    Awesome that you read, learned and took action.

    All the best for the rest of 2018.
     
  14. NickB
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    NickB Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Awesome action and progress! Congrats breaking into PE! I was in corporate finance for awhile, then got my CFA and realized I picked the wrong career track! Been in freelance consulting and eCommerce since then. I can't imagine what your 1 year of IB must've been like.

    You clearly have many irons in the fire. Two questions for you:

    How do you manage your time?
    How do you decide when your actions are no longer giving you enough results?
     
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  15. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Update:

    Niche content blog v1
    My content blog has been chugging along - I started writing a post that I think will get 6-8k uniques per month once its picked up by Google, but it's a beast (targeting 5,000 words) and I'm probably 25% done. Traffic has remained relatively flat over the last two months, starting to see a slight pullback since I haven't posted in 6-months now.

    I lost a paid advertiser ($150/month) due to ineffectiveness of his ads. Doesn't help that I didn't support him by writing more. So this brings profitability down to $250-350/month. Overall I think this might be good since I signed him up when I was doing 10k/uniques per month and never upped the monthly cost even as traffic doubled.

    I now have 4 niche automotive sites (2 bmw, 1 chevy, 1 porsche) that I'm hoping I can package together for a bigger advertising deal in a few months. Hoping to target some of the big guys here (cars.com, cargurus, carmax, etc.).

    My FBA Product
    Last I posted I needed to find a supplier for the last piece of my product...well I found it but now I'm questioning the quality. The piece I need is a small metal connector, like 4 inches long and 2 inches diameter, and this is turning out to be more expensive than anticipated. The supplier I found can get me the piece for $2.62/connector which works for my margins, but the product doesn't aesthetically look good and I'm concerned this will affect ratings and consumer satisfaction.

    Looking for alternative routes that product the aesthetics I need at a sub $3 price point.

    Online business brokerage
    Received a couple offers on the first business I am listing, but not good enough for seller so still marketing it. Hoping I can get it sold by end of Nov. Signed up a second business ($150-200k deal) and launched it at the beginning of this month.

    Going to do an insider progress thread on this, I'll link it here once I post it - its taking me forever to write. Will also likely drop a marketplace ad for these deals in-case anyone here is interested :)

    New Job
    New job is great - really enjoy what I'm doing. My team is currently working on closing a $40mm IT services deal which is exciting. Still working long hours, 70 hours/week, but enjoying it a lot more. Hoping this experience can translate well into my business brokerage.

    Niche blog v2
    My second BMW blog is doing well without any further posts. Traffic has doubled since initial post to 3k uniques per month. Starting a blog post this weekend that I think can double that. Currently making $20/month but thinking I can get this to $100 or so by the end of Nov.
     
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  16. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Sorry for not getting to this earlier....managing my time is probably something I could do better. I started using Hitask and what I try to do is build a daily to-do list and then hold myself accountable to actually executing on it. I've been going out less, drinking less, etc. to make sure I get the things done that I need to. I'm getting better at telling my friends "no, I can't do that tonight, I have work I need to finish".

    The downside with all these things is its easy to get off track on one or the other. I have weeks where I hit one thing hard, but don't touch any of the others. The good news is most of my stuff is passive to the point that I can not touch it for weeks at a time without any real downside results.

    In regards to my actions and results...I have to think "what's moving the needle the most for my goals?". My goal is to eventually be able to live supplement my day job income with online income. I want to get my passive blogging income to the point that it can sustain my monthly living expenses, and then have my business brokerage to really bring in the excess cash flow. That way if I don't sell a business for 3-months I don't have to try to find a side gig to cover my expenses.

    With that being said, my business brokerage has the most opportunity to get me where I want to be. If I can sell the two deals I currently have, I can put $25k in my pocket and then am significantly closer to my end goal. So ultimately, I spend most of my time working on that and then when I get to the point that I'm happy with the progress I've made during the week, I transition to my smaller projects.

    My goal every day is to do something (usually multiple things) to get me closer to my end goal. Everyone has a goal or a plan and I think happiness and motivation come from knowing that you're getting one step closer to your goal everyday. Knowing that what you're doing is helping get you to where you want to be. So I guess my long-winded answer to your questions is: I stop doing whatever it is once I realize that what I'm doing isn't getting me any closer to my end goal.
     
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  17. garyfritz
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    garyfritz Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Summit Attendee

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    You're a beast! I can't believe all the projects you're executing on, in addition to 70 hrs/wk at your new job!

    So you're growing these blogs to thousands of views in a few months just by writing a couple of good articles and letting Google find them!? Not driving any traffic at all? Do you think that would work for any well-written articles, or only for ones that you wrote based on already-well-drawing forum posts?
     
  18. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Correct, I spend 0 hours on SEO, social media, or any form of traffic generation. But the reason it works is because it's so niche. They are automotive blogs, but rather than focusing on specific models of cars, I focus on specific engines of cars. An example would be the 2JZ...an engine that's in the Toyota Supra which is legendary car and highly regarded as the "most tune-able car ever". Tune-able meaning it has the ability to make a sh*t ton of horsepower without the need to pay someone thousands of dollars to do it.

    People that own a 2JZ might google "how to get my 2jz to 500hp" and I target articles that will hit the top spots for that type of stuff. I don't have a 2JZ site, but this is an example of what I focus on. I own cars with the same engines I write about, and I'm a car guy so I write articles about things I want to know.

    I wanted to know how to make 500hp on my car, but I couldn't find an easy to read article about it anywhere online...so I decided to write a guide myself. I guess the easy part is, I'm an "enthusiast" for the types of cars I write about, and I own one. So coming up with blog posts is easy, I just think "what would I google if I'm trying to find out X?" and so I do very little keyword research either.

    My niche is primarily dominated by forums. And forums rank like sh*t in google. So a lot of time what I do is go to the forums, find the most viewed thread, and then re-write and write it better. I submit it to google webmaster, give it a few months and usually hit top 3. The downside is its niche to the point that even if I took the top spot for every keyword, I'd maybe get 150,000 uniques per month, probably no more than that. But on the upside, if I can make $400/month from 20k uniques, I'm sure I could make $1.5k/month from 100k uniques - so thats the goal!
     
  19. ericaung
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    ericaung New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I am noob here. You mentioned that you were making $65 per month by blogging in automotive industry initially and increased to $500 per month. How did you do that? I am very new to making money with blogging. could u explain it?

    Btw, keep up the good work man!
     
  20. LuckyPup
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    LuckyPup Done Dicking Around Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    That's excellent! I struggle with balancing learning/reading/absorbing with doing.
     
  21. JM35
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    JM35 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Yeah it was really from traffic going from 7k uniques to 22k uniques per month. All from organic search. From a revenue perspective, it has always been pretty diversified but is typically:
    • $150 private advertiser (which I recently lost)
    • $150 amazon associates
    • $100 ebay affiliate
    • $50 adsense
    • $50 TireRack affiliate
    When I was initially making $65 per month I was only doing amazon associates and adsense. But hitting numbers like I am now, even with 5 revenue streams, wouldn't be possible with only 7k uniques. So to answer your questions of how I did that: I tripled traffic by writing extremely high quality, niche, blog articles.
     
    ericaung likes this.

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