Here’s the deal. Much of the work required to growing a site to a $1 million+ is boring.
Actually, much of what is involved in growing any business or succeeding in most endeavors requires plodding through a lot of boring work. Boring makes money.
Take being an attorney, for example. It looks darn exciting on TV and in the movies. Lawyers shred witnesses on the stand in court and get to the truth in front of a jury who then proceeds to award their clients millions of dollars. Fun stuff.
What the movies don’t tell you is that for every hour in the courtroom, a lawyer spends three hours preparing. Preparing is boring. You also don’t always win (unlike the movies).
How about the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Being an A-list actor looks great on the surface (and I’m sure it is overall), but they suffer endless boredom as well. Memorizing lines, researching characters, endless sitting around (granted they’re chilling in $500,000 pimped out trailers), promotional tours, take after take after take, etc. This is not to mention the many years of doing all this for peanuts often while holding down other jobs.
The point is it’s the tenacity of plodding through hours, days, weeks and months of boring, tedious work that gets results.
It’s definitely the case with publishing a big niche site. For some perverse reason, I love most of what I do and am highly motivated, but it’s not exciting work.
Let me put it this way. In many ways, I’m merely an editor of a publication who oversees the production of content. I do other things, but that’s my job. I would not want to be employed as an editor because it is boring. However, because I’m also the publisher, it’s exciting. Subtle distinction, but an important one for me.
If you find this online publishing gig boring, you’re doing something right.
To give you an idea of what I do day-in and day-out, below is my current set of tasks I do daily for my biggest site. Whatever time I have left over, I write stuff like this on Fatstacks (which is exciting).
Table of Contents
- Podcast Version
- Video Version
- What is a $1 million website?
- Here are my typical daily tasks
- But that’s not all…
- Did you notice one thing I didn’t mention?
- Monthly Tasks
- One-Off Tasks Over the Course of a Year
What is a $1 million website?
Before I dive into my daily niche site tasks, for the benefit of people new to this biz, let me explain what I mean by a $1 million website.
Most websites that generate revenue, can be sold. The sale price is usually calculated by multiplying net monthly income by X number of months. An established content site earning tens of thousands per month from organic search traffic can fetch 35 to 40 times net monthly income.
That means a site netting $30,000 per month is worth $1 million. Since my biggest site nets $30,000 to $35,000 per month, it’s worth $ 1 million+. While that sounds like a lot, there are many, many sites worth far more. While it may be boring getting a site to those levels, the pay-off can be great.
Here are my typical daily tasks
Step 1: Review New Content (45 to 120 minutes)
I am fortunate to be able to pay for content and VAs who format that content. But I do take the time each day to review their work.
I carefully go through each new article often spending time tweaking things and emailing VAs corrections.
I recently hired a VA whose sole job right now is to interlink all related articles on my biggest site. With 3,600 published articles, it’s a 3 month job. With her on board, I’m better able to ensure new articles are properly interlinked as well. Because I’m particular as to which articles link to one another, as each new article is published, I send your interlinking instructions.
Step 3: Tag It (2 minutes)
6 weeks ago I implemented a carefully planned out tagging navigation structure to my biggest site. I reviewed all articles and listed out tags that could be applied. I then tagged everything accordingly.
With a great tagging structure in place, I now apply a tag or two to each new article. Because I’m particular about this as well, I do it. Fortunately it doesn’t take much time.
Step 4: FAQ Mark Up (20 minutes)
Many articles I order these days include an FAQ section. I also add FAQ sections to existing articles. I then add FAQ schema markup to these posts. Because of the technical nature of this work, I do it rather than outsource it.
Step 5: Email Newsletter (20 minutes)
For my biggest niche site I send out an email newsletter 3 to 5 times per week. I continually experiment with different formats. Each edition takes about 20 minutes to set up and send.
While I paused the newsletter for a month or so for reasons set out here, at the end of the day I found a solution to the main problem with running this email newsletter so I resumed it.
Step 6: Place Content Order (20 minutes to 90 minutes)
This is also a time-consuming task I do almost daily.
The first part involves reviewing content completed by writers. If approved, it’s lined up for my VAs. If not approved, I spend time sending revision instructions.
The second part involves placing orders for new articles. While I have order templates set up for most article types, most require some customization. This is slow, tedious work. If the instructions are bad, there’s a higher likelihood the delivered work will not meet my requirements. While I can ask for revisions, I hate doing so because it’s an added delay. I don’t like delays.
I order one to five articles per day.
FYI, because I do extensive keyword research sessions monthly or every few months, I always have a long list of article topics to submit. This means I don’t do KW research daily. I simply order the content.
Total time spent on biggest niche site: 2 to 4.5 hours per day.
But that’s not all…
Sometimes I write an article as well, which adds 1.5 to 4 hours to working on the site. I typically cover topics I’m very interested in and have fun with it. Usually they’re opinion pieces but sometimes I’ll do more boring topics just because I want them done a very particular way.
Did you notice one thing I didn’t mention?
I don’t click refresh in Google Analytics, ad accounts and affiliate accounts all day. Sound familiar? How many times a day to you check Google Analytics and other accounts measuring results?
If you’re like many people, you do it often. Some people do it like the proverbial rat smacking down a lever for a treat.
I used to do this. It’s a huge distraction.
Don’t get me wrong, I do check Analytics and revenue accounts, but at most once per day. Some days I don’t bother. I’m focused on the tasks that get the results instead of monitoring results.
In addition to the above, I also have monthly tasks that include:
- Keyword research sessions: Once a month or every few months I fire up Ahrefs and put together a list of 50 to 200 new article topics to tackle using a variety of long tail keyword research methods.
- Pinterest pinning / Instagram posting via Tailwind: Pinterest traffic isn’t great and in fact it’s been slowly dropping but it’s still sizeable so I continue to pin. I post to Instagram for brand exposure (the traffic is pitiful). Fortunately Tailwind makes it almost painless and I can schedule a month’s worth of pins and IG posts inside 20 minutes.
- Putting together profit and loss statements: Each month I tally up revenue and expenses for all niche sites. This is a boring process, but highly informative. I’m able to spot waste and it gives me a good handle on the financials. It also provides all the info for the Fatstacks income reports.
- Data Analysis: About once or twice a month I dig around in Google Analytics, Ezoic’s Big Data Analytics and Ahrefs analyzing what’s performing well and what’s not performing well.
One-Off Tasks Over the Course of a Year
There must be more to it that you’re not telling us Jon.
There is more involved over the long term. Over the course of the year or every few years I do the following tasks and projects:
- Ad testing: Over the years I’ve done loads of ad testing with different ad networks and platforms. Often I’ll switch ad networks to see if I can improve revenue. Recently I switched back to Ezoic which so far has been very good for my bottom line.
- Try new themes/designs: I don’t do this as often as I used to, but every year or two I get the itch for a new design and end up mucking around with different themes for a different look.
- Buy traffic: Every 6 months or so I buy traffic to see if I can profit from paid traffic. While it used to work well, I haven’t been able to scale paid traffic for the last several years. I’m currently buying some traffic to see whether it can work, but it’s not looking good.
- Write my own content: When I come up with new article ideas and formats, I do up a prototype to see how it performs, what’s involved and it serves as an example for writers and VAs if I add it as an article concept to my site en masse.
- Hire and train VAs: This last year, my head VA did all the VA hires which has been great, but I still do some hiring here and there.
- Try new writing services: Every three to six months I try new writing services and/or return to past services. I’m constantly striving to get the best content for the best rate. Overall, you do get what you pay for though. I’ve learned this over the years.
- Tinker with and test new plugins, software, etc.: There are always new plugins and software offering all kinds of promises and features. I often can’t resist and spend a few weeks each year testing new stuff.
- Miscellaneous: Every now and then I monkey around with new ideas and test stuff to see if anything will work. For example, I periodically do some outreach for various articles and graphics. Normally results aren’t good, but it’s worth trying things periodically because you never know.
Like I said, none of this exciting stuff, but it’s the process and tasks that grow a successful site. Boring makes money.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.