Hitman Hired to Go After Niche Publisher Because of a Published Review. He Survives to Grow His Niche Site to $3K/Mo. (Case Study)

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Truth is stranger than fiction, at least for Emmett, a niche site owner, it is.  You can’t make this stuff up.  It’s nuts.

It takes real guts to do publish what Emmett does on his website.

His website drives tens of thousands of visitors per month in free traffic and earns $3,000 per month as a result.  Plus, he’s contributed to the arrest and conviction of fraudsters.

His achievements are not without risk though. In fact, because he exposes fraudsters, he recently was the intended target of a hitman.  That’s not cool at all.  Fortunately, he came out unscathed, but it’s definitely kinda crazy.

Emmett is what I call a true journalist.  He researches, investigates and then publishes in-depth information about various online investment vehicles.  Some he likes and concludes they’re legit, while many other investment vehicles he exposes as outright fraud.

While his site is largely a “review” website, he’s not your typical product review affiliate who sings the praises of everything.  Instead, he holds nothing back.  In fact, the lion’s share of his content exposes fraudsters in the extremely lucrative, global and nefarious investment niche.

What I really like about what Emmett is doing is he’s actually helping out lot of people publishing.  He’s protecting the public from fraud.  He’s risking his life doing it… but he loves what he does.

About Emmett’s Website

  • His site: TradingSchools.org
  • Launch date: Spring 2015
  • Number of published posts: 150
  • Number of new posts per week: 2
  • Monthly pageviews:  60,000 +/- (February 2017)
  • Revenue:  $3,000/mo. (approximately)

It’s an amazing site and offers unparalleled value in the niche because it exposes fraudsters and fraudulent investment vehicles and platforms.  When you read the comments you notice that he’s building a real community.  Commenters are regular visitors who appreciate Emmett’s work.

While it sounds easy, it isn’t.  It’s rare he publishes a positive review.  Check out his site and you’ll see most reviews go way beyond just not liking the product.  The review is really exposing fraud.

Emmett takes his job seriously.  He wants to ensure that he’s accurate.  He doesn’t want to praise a fraudster or malign a sound investment platform.  When he gives an opinion, he needs to be certain it’s based on facts (not alternative facts).

On average he publishes 2 posts.  He spends approximately 3 long days researching, investigating and using the investment platforms and software that he reviews. He then puts a great deal of care into writing each review.

Because he holds nothing back, his posts have gone viral, especially when he outs a fraudulent platform.  The word spreads and he attracts thousands of visitors from social sharing and then Google search.  I enjoy reading his work.  For example, this review is kind of funny in the only pro he sets out is “he seems like a nice guy.”

Because he attracts traffic from so many sources organically, Google has awarded his site some decent authority resulting in some great organic search traffic too.

Traffic Sources

Emmett is a great writer and thorough journalist.  The two attributes result in content people love.  He focuses 100% on amazing content that people find valuable.

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Keyword Research

He doesn’t do keyword research.

He writes about what he wants to write about and what his audience likes.  That said, he’s developed a great pattern which is publishing truly honest reviews in a niche fraught with fraud.  You can only imagine the sensational content thorough investigation and talented writing can produce.  Emmet has definitely carved out a terrific niche for himself (it’s not without challenges though, which I discuss under the SWOT analysis below).

On-Site SEO

Aside from filling out the usual meta SEO stuff, Emmett doesn’t do on-site SEO.  He’s not counting keywords, putting together lists of synonyms or implementing the latest tactic to enjoy some short-lived SERP nudge.

Instead, all he does is write naturally and covers the topic thoroughly

Off-Site SEO

He doesn’t and never has done any link building, yet he attracts plenty of natural links. That’s what excellent content does, especially when it’s content based on investigation and can’t be found anywhere else.  Not only do his readers trust his work but other publishers trust that he’s been thorough and is honest and hence gladly link to him.

Social Media

His social media efforts echo his SEO efforts, which is nada.  He doesn’t post to social channels at all.  He just hits the publish button.  Again, he lets his content do the heavy lifting… it’s so good people share it.  This is actually amazing given it’s a review site in the investment niche.  Review sites don’t get shared typically.  The investment audience isn’t exactly big on social media.  Yet, he’s able to put out such unique and informative content that people are compelled to share it.

As far as I’m concerned, this is truly inspirational.  While I’m not advocating that you manufacture sensational content, it doesn’t hurt to find an angle in your niche that is unique and exciting that people love and can’t resist sharing.

I’m also certainly not advocating you publish a series of scathing reviews for attention.  Reviews should be objective, but in Emmett’s case, when he sees fraud, he calls it what it is.

Can this be done in other niches?

Of course it can.  There’s always something ridiculous you can cover.  Do your research and look for something ridiculous, outrageous or scandalous that’s worthy to publish.

Content Generation

Emmett currently writes everything published on the site himself.  While this clearly contributed to its success, it’s also a lot of work and is making it difficult for him to scale.

He doesn’t just sit down and magically think up his content.  Instead he signs up to the various investment platforms he covers, uses them, engages support, makes investments… uses it as other customers use it.  He then reports his findings, which often reveals that the platform is fraudulent or a bit sharp at best.

Retaliation

He must be very careful because bad reviews can result in lawsuits or worse.  In fact, Emmett regaled  about some staggering things that he’s experienced/suffered being a publisher who outs fraudster.

On the plus side he’s helped the FBI jail fraudsters.

On the negative side, he’s been the target of a hitman hired by a disgruntled investment platform owner who Emmett outed as a total fraudster.  Fortunately, the hitman was called off, but it was close.

He’s also currently the defendant of a $6 million defamation lawsuit. While truth is a defence and he’s confident the lawsuit won’t amount to much, he still needs to hire attorneys who aren’t cheap.  While his site is successful, it’s not earning him hundreds of thousands of dollars… yet.

Content length

In recent years, the SEO mantra is long content.  The trouble with this is long content is confused with quality content.  I’ve been guilty of confusing the two and missing the forest from the trees.

Emmett and I had a good chuckle about how some content is getting so long we zone out.

Emmett manages to engage, get his content shared and attract links in 2,000 words.  He doesn’t belabour the point.  He gets to the point and writes only what’s necessary.

Content frequency

Because he researches, investigates and uses the products he reviews, he only publishes two posts per week.  He works hard for that content.  While that’s not infrequent, it’s not the content treadmill some sites are on publishing 3 plus times per day.

Emmett is particular about the content he attaches his name to.  He does not want to attach his name to garbage.  He takes pride in what he does and will not compromise quality for the sake of publishing more content.

Monetization

Currently Emmett earns approximately $3,000 per month with his site mostly from display ads and affiliate promotions.  It isn’t all that much given traffic levels and the niche.  The thing is he’s very aggressive promoting products as an affiliate. He doesn’t use affiliate links in most of his reviews.  He wants to remain objective.

Earnings Proof:

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My advice to him to improve his fortune was to promote the investment platform he uses and likes and trusts.  With a clear affiliate disclaimer, I actually think being clear about what he uses and likes is a solid value service to visitors. The fact is he’s done the research and has tested many platforms (as well as courses) so his opinion is very valuable. I see no ethical issue promoting the one platform he uses for his own investing.

Given his audience trusts his opinion, I suspect simply promoting one quality investment platform will boost his revenue.

I think an other potentially lucrative pursuit is selling sponsored posts.  However, to stay true to his message, he must carefully vet each product that’s promoted. If he started publishing sponsored posts promoting shady investment platforms, his audience would disappear.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

Well-written, thoroughly researched content that helps a large number of people.  It’s rare to find brutally honest reviews about products, courses and services.  Emmett takes a considerable risk being brutally honest, but the reward is a large and growing audience.

He’s definitely carved out a successful formula with the content he publishes.  He also puts a great deal of effort in the writing itself.  He prides himself on excellent writing supported by thorough journalism.

Weaknesses

He has 2 challenges.  First, he needs to generate more revenue with current traffic levels.  He’s working really hard for $3,000 per month and has done so for a long time.  Given his traffic levels, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to double revenue with some product promotion.  His audience trust him so it’s a no-brainer assuming he promotes excellent products.  However, he must be careful not to betray his readers’ trust.  He’s very aware of this and so he’s avoid aggressive promotion.  My suggestion is to promote the best-of-the-best based on his extensive investigations and testing.  That’s valuable advice and there’s no harm in him being remunerated for those efforts.

Second, he has a content scaling problem. Because he writes everything himself, hiring writers will diminish the quality.  Hired writers simply won’t go to the lengths he does to craft the reviews and thoroughly investigate software, trading platforms and courses.  He also has to trust them.  These problems have resulted in Emmett not outsourcing the content and being reluctant to start.

One idea I suggested, which isn’t ideal, but could still add value to the site, is to hire finance majors in university to write well researched articles on closely related topics.  I suggested this because his site has excellent authority with Google so why not leverage that with more content, even if the content isn’t the “sensational reviews” that’s been the cornerstone of his site to date.

My suggestion to hire finance majors was based on personal experience.  I do some law firm marketing and in the past I’ve hired law students to write content.  It was money well spent.  They produced very well researched content that added value to my clients’ sites.  Likewise, finance majors have access to the best investment databases and resources and therefore can do top-notch research resulting in highly informative content… not the usual fluff published all over the web.

Opportunities

Emmett has many opportunities, but he must choose carefully.  He’s established trust with readers and he can’t tarnish that for the sake of making more money.

His number one opportunity is to continue doing what he’s been doing.  It’s working wonders.  However, he needs to combine what he’s doing with promoting one outstanding investment vehicle or trading platform that he uses and likes and is excellent value and has an affiliate program.  I see no conflict of interest doing so as long as he’s clear he’s an affiliate and that he uses it and that in his ‘opinion’ it’s the best on the market.

The fact is, as a consumer, I appreciate honest review sites.  I’ve purchased many products on the recommendation of a website and will continue to do so.  It doesn’t always work out, but it has worked out very well.

Therefore, Emmett’s greatest opportunity is to leverage the trust he’s established by recommending an excellent product that will boost his revenue.

One other smaller opportunity that I would at least test is more aggressive ad placement.  His AdSense revenue is decent given the ad placements.  I think it would be interesting to see what would happen revenue wise if he were to place ads in more aggressive placements.

Threats

Emmett already knows and has experienced the threats… a hitman, defamation lawsuits, DDOS attacks, negative SEO… all the nefarious actions a disgruntled fraudster might take against Emmett for the brutally honest negative reviews.  These are definitely not your usual niche publisher threats. The worst I’ve suffered is malware attacks, which hurt bad and resulted in a short-term Google deindexing, but I’ve never worried about my life.

The Takeaways

The only takeaway here, which is highly valuable, is to think about how you can publish content in your niche that will engage and drive traffic on its own accord. If content is shared and people visit your site directly because they want to read more, you can bet your bottom dollar that other sites will link to it which will further drive more organic traffic.

We too often get wrapped up in tactics that at best generate short term returns.  Emmett doesn’t get sidelined with tactics.  He sticks to focusing on the content.  It’s a very valuable lesson, especially for me.  When the content is great, it will more likely than not be rewarded.  Not always, even Emmett admittedly published top notch content that fell flat, but the odds are the more you focus on great content, the more likely you will be rewarded in time.

While the content needs to be good, it need not be long.  Don’t equate long (i.e. many words) with quality.

Oh yeah, you certainly don’t have to publish sensational content that puts your life at risk.  Well researched, highly informational content can have the same result.  When people love content, they’ll hook you up (most of the time… don’t expect people to share medical conditions and the like).

If you go the review route, put great care into each review.  Use the products and craft the reviews with the sole intention of helping other people make the right product choice.

2 Comments

  1. Matt April 10, 2017
  2. Yevgen April 24, 2017

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