I’m really excited about our guest today on the podcast – Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation!
Nick is not only a really well-known blogger and podcaster, but he’s also one of the nicest guys that you could meet. While he runs multiple sites, Side Hustle Nation is his focus right now, which has grown massively since Nick was last on the podcast all the way back in 2013.
In the interview, we talk a lot about the Side Hustle Nation blog, covering:
- how it’s making money through affiliate revenue
- his really well put together SEO strategy
- how he selects keywords
- how he writes the content out
- and updating old content
Nick has a lot of tips and strategies not only related to SEO and content creation but also having a business mindset in general as well. I know you’ll enjoy listening to this successful entrepreneur.
Nick recently launched The Traffic Course in which he shares “how to get more qualified traffic to your site – fast!”
It’s a very affordable course that covers everything from ‘how to create content that’s a hit’ to ‘what to do after you publish a new post.’
Nick also has a limited-time offer for us. He is hosting two upcoming live office hour sessions, exclusively for Traffic Course students. Sign up before July 26 for the chance to get direct feedback on your site from Nick.
Nick Loper From Side Hustle Nation
We cover a lot of ground in this interview, but one of the interesting discussions is about the site he recently sold, Virtual Assistant Assitant. This was a site he’d been running for 9 years.
It was a fairly hands-off site by the time he sold it and was making around $5k per month. We talk about how he grew that site and why he decided to sell it.
The Side Hustle Nation podcast is another highlight of Nick’s business portfolio. It’s currently getting an incredible 10,000 downloads per day. In the interview, we talk a bit about how he’s grown it, and how well it’s doing in terms of sponsorships.
We also talk about how he targets keywords with the podcast pages on his site.
For example, this recent post on children’s publishing. He interviewed a legit children’s book author and then used the content from the interview to create a valuable post targeting keywords around ‘children’s publishing.’
He structured the post with good headers like ‘How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Children’s Book?’ and then can input the answer given from the interview. It’s a really great way of getting more traffic from the podcast content.
Increasing traffic is one of Nick’s specialties, which is why he’s now released The Traffic Course!
The Traffic Course is designed to be a quick-study course with tactics you can implement today.
Here’s the curriculum:
1. How to Make Google Love You—Or At Least Stop Ignoring Your Texts
2. The Hidden Traffic Opportunities Right Under Your Nose
3. The “Unsung” Search Engines You Might Be Overlooking
4. How to Create New Content That’s a Hit–Without Wasting Time
The Traffic Course
Nick created and launched The Traffic Course in response to a survey he ran with the Side Hustle Nation audience.
He asked them what they were struggling with, and the two main things were:
- Coming up with a side hustle to start off with
- How to grow your existing side hustle
Because he already has an extensive list of possible side hustles he decided to focus on the growing problem. Namely, how to get traffic to your site.
He describes it in the interview as ‘here is the 80/20 of what you need to know about SEO without doing a ton of link building.’
The early feedback from those who have taken the course and implemented what Nick teaches has been very positive. Many have found that what works for Nick also works for them (no surprises there)!
The course is best for the blogger or online business owner who has just started and has possibly created some content already. It’s for those who are perhaps beginning to see some traction, but who want to pour some fuel on the fire or cut down the learning curve.
Also, because it is so affordable (some would say cheap!), this would be great for anyone wanting to learn more about how Nick does what he does.
Here’s the curriculum:
- How to Make Google Love You—Or At Least Stop Ignoring Your Texts
- The Hidden Traffic Opportunities Right Under Your Nose
- Easy Ways to Optimize Existing Content
- The “Unsung” Search Engines You Might Be Overlooking
- How to Create New Content That’s a Hit–Without Wasting Time
If this sounds like you, head on over to The Traffic Course to learn more and/or sign up.
Remember that Nick is running a couple of group office hour sessions for those who sign up before July 26. This is a great way to learn more from Nick directly and meet a few others in the Side Hustle Nation community.
Read the Full Transcript
Spencer Haws: So I’m really excited about the guest today. Pursuits podcast. Nick Loper from side hustle, nation.com is not only a really well-known blogger and podcaster, but he’s one of the nicest guys that you could meet. I’ve known Nick for a long time. In fact, he was back on the niche pursuits podcast in 2013 when he owned a shoe affiliate website.
But we’re not going to really talk about that much. He sold that site and has moved on to do a lot of things. He’s focusing a lot on. The side hustle nation show. That’s probably what he’s most well for getting 10,000 downloads a day. And we’re going to talk a little bit about his podcast, how it’s grown and how well it’s doing in terms of sponsorships.
But then we’re going to talk a lot about. His blog as well, side hustle, nation.com and how it’s making money through affiliate revenue and the really well put together SEO strategy that he has from selecting keywords to writing the content out, updating old content and everything. But he’s done well in other areas as well.
In fact, he just sold a site late last year for over six figures. And that site was virtual assistant assistant.com where he was basically reviewing virtual assistant agency. And making money from affiliate commissions. And it’s a site that he was running for like nine years. It was making something like $5,000 a month and was a very consistent earner.
But he decided to exit that business. And so we jumped into the strategies about how he grew that site and specifically how. Getting most of its traffic from Google and his organic traffic strategies there as well. And so if you want to listen to a very successful entrepreneur, Nick has a lot of great tips and strategies, not only related to SEO, but just business mindset in general is.
Nick also recently launched a course called the traffic course, which teaches all of us SEO strategies. And I will simply just say that it is a very affordable well priced course. And Nick definitely knows what he’s doing. He’s been around for over a decade. In the space and, and growing his site extremely well, all of his sites have done very well.
And so if you want to get the traffic course, you can go to niche, pursuits.com/traffic course. And the reason I mentioned that is because. Nick is giving a special offer to niche pursuits listeners. When this episode is released where he’s going to do a couple of extra office hours, where he can actually get on a call with Nick as a group and.
Ask questions, hear his answers from other people and just interact with Nick a little bit more related to his course. So again, that is a limited time special offer. Then you can go to niche, pursuits.com/traffic. Even if you’re not interested in that course, it doesn’t matter because Nick has a lot of value that he brings to the episode here today.
So I, with that, I hope that you enjoyed this interview.
Hey Nick, welcome back to the niche pursuits.
Nick Loper: What’s going on, man. It’s been a, it’s been a minute.
Spencer Haws: It’s been a little while I was taken a look. Actually, you were on the podcast in 2013 and I think is the last time. And we were talking about shoe sniper. Oh my gosh.
Nick Loper: That was like my original side hustle.
That was. That was a while ago, man. Yeah.
Spencer Haws: Has anything happened since then?
Nick Loper: Well, it was probably about a year later. I actually ended up shutting that site down to focus on the side hustle, nation blog and podcast. Full-time I’d had a great run, man. It operated in the margin between the cost of traffic, like heavily reliant on ad-words and paid traffic like search marketing stuff and.
The value of that traffic in terms of affiliate commissions, affiliate conversions on the other side. And I just, over the course of 8, 9, 10 years of running it’s like those margins got thinner and thinner and thinner. It’s like there were some months where my virtual assistant was making more than me.
Spencer Haws: Yeah, it did have a good run of people want to listen to that. They can dig into the archives way back, but years I know it’s crazy, which is we, we just barely had gotten introduced, I think shortly before we recorded that podcast. But we now I would consider you a friend now for the past eight years, and we’ve seen each other in person at, I don’t know, two or three different conferences at least.
And yeah, connected online. And so I’ve been fairly up to date with what you’ve been doing, but let’s catch the listeners up, like kind of give us an overview if you will, of your business kind of today, what’s everything that you’re involved with.
Nick Loper: You bet sort of business today is primarily. And I guess maybe it makes sense to talk about in terms of like the different revenue pillars or revenue stools.
So first there’s the side hustle show podcast, which makes money from primarily from sponsorships, but also, you know, drives email signups. And there’s some affiliate stuff on there as well. That’s kind of been my main focus for a long time. Yep. And then, so like if I go to a conference, like that’s kind of what people tend to recognize before it’s like, oh, side-hustle show guy.
Yeah. The blog over the last three or four [email protected] has become maybe more of a focus after kind of like accidentally stumbling upon some SEO. I dunno, it’s like, you know, the, you leave a bunch of monkeys with typewriters and eventually they’ll come up with Shakespeare. Like that’s how I felt with, you know, Probably 1500 articles or something like something insane about that.
Most people are never going to find never going to read, but a couple of them, like you start to hit like, oh, this is picking up track. Like, well, what, what worked here? It didn’t work. It’s just like, kind of by accident, stumbled upon that. Found a formula. We’re going to
Spencer Haws: We’re going to dig into that here in a second.
Nick Loper: We’ve kind of doubled down on creating content. We user in Tanner with search intent has been a game changer on that, and that’s primarily monetized with affiliate relationships or affiliate marketing. And then the third leg of the stool has been historically my own side hustle experiments, and the shoe sniper site would have fallen under that bucket.
The other big. That was under that bucket was virtual assistant assistant.com, which I sold at the end of last year. And this could also include self publishing and alternative investments and online courses. And, you know, it used to dabble with eBay and Amazon and freelancing and everything else under that you know, side hustle, experimentation bucket would have been a income stream number.
Spencer Haws: Do you find yourself trying to kind of hone in, like, you’ve got that third leg right. Where you’re doing side hustles and you’ve got this website that you recently sold that we’re going to dive into. Are you trying to do less of that and, and focus more on, on the core business itself? Or are you still just like to do.
Nick Loper: I mean, I still like to dabble, I think choosing the cytosol nation brand was good because my own entrepreneurial add is similar to niche pursuits. Right. But it’s like, oh, it gives me this outlet to experiment with a bunch of different stuff and report back. But those experiments have kind of taken a back seat and it’s just harder.
To justify outside of your own creative outlet. When you look at the, you know, the ROI from spending an hour on the core business versus spending an hour more speculatively on something else, right?
Spencer Haws: Yeah. I mean, that makes sense. And that’s kind of the idea, right? That once you hit on something that’s doing really well, it just makes sense to try and scale and grow that maybe not always go after all the options.
Preneurial distractions that are out there. But I think at our core, like we’re both entrepreneurs and as much as I’d like to say, oh, I’m not gonna chase some other new shiny objects. It probably will happen again in the future, right?
Nick Loper: Yeah, we had, and this is like the, the show is awful for this. Cause I know it’s a mark of a good episode when I hang up here.
I should totally do that. I could do that. We had a woman on who was like buying semi-trucks and then going and finding drivers. And her ROIs were like off the chart, cash on cash, especially compared with like traditional real estate investing all sorts of ideas. There was something I was honestly genuinely nervous about starting the show in 2013.
Like, am I going to run out of people to talk to, like I was, yeah. I thought I was well-versed in the side hustle universe. I had not even scratched the surface. I love it. There’s so many different creative ways people are making it. Yeah.
Spencer Haws: Yeah, there really are. And we were talking before the show, your eye, maybe your most recent episode, you’re just talking about somebody selling houseplants or they have a niche site related to houseplants.
Right. And there’s just so many different niches and just these sort of random subjects that people are either building sites on or building little side hustles on. It’s fun and exciting to listen to, and kind of at least hear what other people are doing all the time. So, yeah,
Nick Loper: I like the Kind of the comparison shopping space, not in the, in the old school, traditional sense, but like this product versus this product, we’ve seen some people have kind of fast track affiliate success doing that and trying to be first mover when you know, a new product comes out, you start to see you their ad budget on Instagram or whatever.
If you can be one of the first people to publish a review on that, you kind of set yourself up well to pick up some traffic and links.
Spencer Haws: So speaking of review sites I want to dive into your virtual assistant assistant.com, a website that you recently sold. You were running it for a number of years.
Why did you start the site and how is it making money?
Nick Loper: You bet this project actually predates site estimation by a couple of years. This is like from 2011 back in the early days. Real experience with WordPress as a CMS. A lot of, a lot of, kind of online business first with this project and, and a lot of gratitude towards niche pursuits in those early days of like, oh, what are, what are you, how does this work?
What are you supposed to be doing? This was born out of my own frustration or confusion. And trying to hire virtual help. So I was running the shoe business at the time. You know, I’d read probably the E-Myth and was like, oh, I, you know, I’ve, I’ve built myself. Yeah. Like it’s better than working for somebody else, but there’s gotta be a, it’s gotta be better.
So I’m trying to figure out how to find qualified, reliable help. And you look to some of these overseas providers and you’re like, Are they legit? How does it work? How do I pay tax? Like, do I have to pay taxes? Like all these kinds of questions? And so ended up building out this resource. It ended up being kind of like a Yelp or TripAdvisor for the virtual assistant industry and tons of companies.
I think probably over three, 400 companies overall both overseas and in the us on where you could go to find a qualified, outsourced help.
Spencer Haws: And th th that’s really fascinating to me that you were able to find so many companies, I guess when I’ve always hired a virtual assistant I’ve gone to Upwork or, you know, maybe Fiverr or other marketplaces.
I had never searched very many companies, although I take that back, I do know of a few, right? Like online jobs.ph And there’s one or two others, but you seem to have found like 300 companies that actually source virtual assistants for you.
Nick Loper: yeah. So, so in the states like time, et cetera, and in the UK would be one of the big operators, belay solutions in the states is a big operator and they’re kind of capitalizing on a trend that we see a lot of people doing in the sinus.
So space and that’s kind of consolidating and. Branding a fragmented market, like virtual assistants have been around since the Dawn of the internet. Like it’s just a remote remote employee basically. And so what belay did, and they’ve been, you know, Inc 5,000 for like, you know, five or six years rent like a really fast growing company and say like, no, we’re going to lay layer on our hiring process, our vetting process, our branding, and then we’re going to go out and hire the same people who’ve been doing it.
For the last 20 years you know, these work at home administrative professionals and for that kind of command a premium price, but that site, the virtual assistant site operated on an affiliate model or a lead gen model for these companies where it’s like, Hey, you know, and it didn’t start out that way.
It started out just as you know, if, if I was lucky to make any sort of commission, like oDesk had a decent commission, they pay 50 bucks for a new user back at all on oDesk. Yeah. That was one of the early. Monetizations, but as it, as it grew, and I remember I was like hounding people on, on Twitter to like leave reviews if they mentioned this company, you know, it just trying to generate that user generated content where a lot of review sites.
Punch in fake reviews and like, oh, if you don’t want this company to be at the top, it’s like, well, I wanted it to be somewhat genuine. Yeah. And even if they had left a review somewhere else, I guess I would offer to reword that on their behalf link back to their website, stuff like that, trying to just see that.
So it was more more objective and say you know, here, here is the crowdsourced community feedback on all these different companies. And over time, I think the cream kind of rose to that.
Spencer Haws: Yeah. And so most of these companies that you were doing reviews on, did they have affiliate programs? Would you only review companies that had an affiliate program or did you have to like get some custom deal with some of these companies?
Nick Loper: A lot of them do not have affiliate programs and I did not. No, I would still add them to the site because it was, it was usually pretty easy pickings on the search traffic, because if, and probably even more so than the companies that did have affiliate programs, cause it’s like everybody wants to write about those.
But it was, you know, pretty quick to rank for. These companies that did and did not. And then at the bottom, you give your honest review, still allow them to collect user reviews and to say, Hey, you know, here’s some alternatives. Like if you’re in this market, you know, here are some other companies that you might be aware of.
You can still collect emails from that traffic. Like there was still a ton of value in creating that content and had a pretty good system dialed in for creating that toward the end. I had tested like a directory inclusion fee type of staff. If the company. You know, really had no search volume around their name.
If they were kind of like brand new and it’s like, I, you know, it does take us some time and money to create this content. So you want to make sure we’re at least collecting something for this. If we’re not gonna, we don’t expect to see much traffic for it. Right. But it didn’t. I didn’t have a ton of chance to test that out before selling.
Spencer Haws: So it sounds like the primary driver of traffic was search engine traffic that, you know, you were writing these reviews, as you mentioned, you’re trying to look, you know, to how much keyword volume do they have, and you’re hoping to get that traffic. Is that, is that correct? Was it kind of an SEO strategy from day one?
Nick Loper: Yeah. And it wasn’t very concerted in the early days, especially 2011. I didn’t know anything about keyword research, but I would look to see in, you know, back in the day, like keyword planner, just trying to see like, is there any, is there any search volume around this? And if there was anything above zero, like I would go after it just because it’s like.
Probably not that many other people are going to write the dedicated article about this company, the dedicated profile for this. And so by default, kind of like these other affiliate review sites, this product versus this product by default or being first or early there was a chance to establish some authority.
Spencer Haws: And so how much were you actually earning from the site? Kind of when you sold it, what was maybe the average earnings, you know, Roughly the year before you sold it, something like that.
Nick Loper: It was earning around five grand a month, pretty consistently for the last three years.
Spencer Haws: Yeah. So that’s, I mean, that’s not a small amount.
I mean, that’s a nice amount that probably on a site that you weren’t putting a ton of effort into, I assume at that point, it sounds like you’d been running it so long. You’re probably just getting traffic from Google and making money every month, right? Yeah. It was
Nick Loper: kind of hard to part with that cashflow and actually look it up the books like early 20, 21, it’s like, oh, well, things are, you know, I could use that cash flow because it was very much, and that was.
That’s what I used to make, like at my old full-time gig, like working corporate. So to have that kind of online asset that drove that kind of cashflow relatively hands-off, you know, it’s not, yeah. No totally passive income, but very, very time leveraged of my hourly rate for working on that. So it was probably better than the side-hustle site and it was really high margin too, because you know, there’s not a lot of overhead that necessarily went into it.
So it was kind of hard to part with, but what drove that decision was kind of, you know, somewhat COVID related. It was just like we had our. Kids home from school for like seven months last, last year. And I had historically earmarked like Wednesday mornings to like, you know, work on the site, new content, new keyword research, like, you know, building, you know, relationships, optimizations, like all of that stuff.
And all of a sudden, the mornings were no longer Nick’s work time. Those were like taking care of the kids time, family time. Yeah. And so it was like, and it was still, you know, the website was still doing well, but it’s like, okay, how long can it continue to. Thrive and grow under this state of benign neglect.
It’s like, I don’t know. And on top of that, it was just, it was just more excited about working on other projects decided to part ways, see what it might be. Yeah.
Spencer Haws: So how old are your kids now? They are five and three. Five and three. Oh man. So, yep. You’ve got your hands full. Lots of energy, fun ages though.
Nick Loper: Yeah, so we were just like, especially early, early quarantine time. We were just like, you know, very grateful to have like this giant empty parking lot behind us, just, okay, we’ll go. Let’s go hang out. It’s a little bit like deja VU every day. It was kind of the same, but. You know, obviously in hindsight, very grateful.
Like a lot of the days felt like they were dragging on forever, but of course, like, oh, you know, they’re never going to be this age again. And I’m glad we got the chance to hang out and spend more time with them than we otherwise ever would have. Yeah.
Spencer Haws: So it sounds like you kind of decided to sell for a number of reasons.
Like you mentioned, and I’m sure part of that is also just to allow you to focus a little bit more on other projects, even though it’s mostly passive and maybe this is me projecting my own thoughts, so, correct me if I’m wrong. I know that I’ve done that a few times. I’ve been trying to sell off a few other websites that even though they don’t really take much time, it’s just a little piece of my thoughts, right?
Like I can just not think about that anymore. Once I sell it off. Yeah.
Nick Loper: Yeah, there’s this. Yeah, there’s this fear that if you continue to divert your attention, maybe the income from it goes down and then, and then the asset becomes worth less. And, and now on top of that, you’re showing like a declining revenue history.
So maybe it’s worth less. Right. And now on top of that you got to invest even more energy to like rebuild. What do you want? What’s you what you once had. And so all of those kinds of things started to play into. I play into the factors.
Spencer Haws: So when did you sell it and if you’re willing to share, how much did you sell it for?
Nick Loper: So the se saw that it was finalized in October of last year. I don’t think I have permission from the seller to disclose the actual sales price, but it was in that, you know, 30 to 35 multiple X range.
Spencer Haws: Yup. Yup. So listeners can get an idea of that. So safe to assume that that’s, you know, we’re in the six figure, you know, exit there, which is awesome, you know congrats on that.
Puts a little cash in your pocket. And then gives you a chance to focus more on, like you said, side hustle nation. And so I’d actually like to talk a little bit about side hustle nation because I’ve been watching the growth, you share your sort of quarterly progress reports as well. You’re pretty open with your numbers in terms of traffic and podcasts downloads and email list growth and, and everything.
So, first of all, congrats on the growth that you’ve had with side hustle nation, just as a brand. Overall w what do you attribute some of the growth that you’ve had over the years on side hustle now?
Nick Loper: I mean early on, it was definitely the podcast, which was surprising to me because I thought of myself as a writer first and foremost, and the podcast was done almost out of peer pressure.
Like, oh, if you want to have a personal brand, you got to have a podcast like, or, or YouTube. That was the other option. I, I like, definitely don’t want to do video. So this is like the lesser of two evils. And then what I found was it was something that. Genuinely enjoy doing and, you know, kind of for it played well for my kind of introverted self.
I go just point the mic at somebody else and let them do the talking. Don’t have to be about you and your expertise and you know, all this stuff, it’s like, let somebody else do, do the instructing and just kind of be the conduit for that. So that played really well. And in that first year, yeah. Podcasts had gained probably triple the traction that the blog had.
So I was like, oh, okay. You know, I don’t have to write as much. And at that time I was writing a lot of, you know, what I’ll call now, looking back kind of like fluff pieces, like, you know, five things I learned about, you know, online business from blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, okay, you know, it’s part online business, but part personal journey type of stuff where you might.
You know, a quick hit of traffic from sending it to your existing audience, you know, if they have it in their blog reader, or if you send it to your small email list at that time, but it’s kind of this flash in the pan asset and it’s it’s over and done with versus today trying to be way more intentional about creating content around search.
Right. Where, if you can get something that sticks to page one in Google, like, okay, all of a sudden, now you have this asset that brings in consistent traffic and email subscribers and revenue month after month after month. And that is a lot more appealing to me than, you know, writing 2000 words, which might take all day in some cases to write and format this post.
And then. A thousand people read it and then it’d be done a much more appealing to try and build these little mini articles as annuities, which was a phrase from Matt UVC. Like if I create something I want it to, to pay my bills, like for a long time coming, I was like, you know, Never really heard it phrased that way, but definitely has appealed to me.
And I think that has been definitely a factor in the, in the organic growth on the block traffic side. Right.
Spencer Haws: And so yeah, I agree. I want to jump into sort of your SEO strategy a little bit here, because I’ve certainly seen that you know, niche pursuits and side hustle nation. We do have some crossover and keywords.
So sometimes when I’m doing keyword research, I see that you pop up, you know, and
Nick Loper: I know sometimes I have an article. And then I see, and then I’d see a pop-up it’s like, ah, they beat me to it, you know, that’s
Spencer Haws: friendly competition. But so I, I know that your site is doing well. You’re getting a lot of traffic.
How do you go about doing your keyword research and sort of analyzing competition? Do you put a lot of thought process into that or is it just, Hey, if it’s relevant to side hustle nation and it’s a REL, you know, it’s a keyword, that’s getting traffic. I’ll, I’ll read an article.
Nick Loper: Yeah, more on the, on the podcast side.
Like if it’s an interesting topic, I don’t care necessarily about SEO because it’s going to go out in people’s feeds. Like, you know, there’s a certain number of people who are subscribed to the show. It’s just going to show up and that’s totally fine. Like, it doesn’t need to be this evergreen asset, but we’re at the sweet spot really is, is if it’s a podcast topic that you could also create a ranking article.
Hmm. Well, we did an interview on like reselling on Amazon, which had stuck to the first page for quite awhile. I don’t know where it’s at now. We did how to start a junk hauling business actually had I’m Brian Scudamore from one 800. Got junk. Wow. And it’s like, oh, okay. You know, so that was on the first page for awhile.
So that’s kind of the sweet spot for like blog podcast. Crossover.
Spencer Haws: Let, let, let’s dive into that a little bit, because I have noticed that, that you are, you know, you’ve got your podcast episode that is ranking for a particular keyword. Like you mentioned, do you plan all of that ahead of time?
Nick Loper: Usually after the fact usually after doing the interview saying, okay, now we’ll punch that into href or punch kind of a bunch of possible variants into H refs and see like, Could this, what, what, you know, what’s the transformation I’ll always like from the start of the episode, to the end of the episode, what’s somebody gonna learn.
Right. But then trying to figure out, okay, what is the, you know, the sweet spot of competition and volume on the search side, because oftentimes the podcast is gonna happen. Title than the blog. Like the, the podcast title might be like a million dollars a day, you know, from hauling junk and then the blog title.
Cause it’s like, you gotta lead with the hook, especially on mobile and all this stuff. Like, you know, you don’t get that many characters to get somebody’s attention on the, on the podcast side of things. But then on the blog side, it’s much more, you know, how to, how to start a junk hauling business. Those types of keywords.
I think we did actually on the YouTube side, and this was a case study in the traffic course, a keyword that came up through a keyword research process was like furniture flipping or flipping furniture. Might’ve been the variation that, that popped up. So it was like, okay, what is, what is the competition look like?
You know, what’s the domain authority of. This stuff that’s on the first page, you know, how deep is their content. And so through that process found like, you know, these are articles were okay. The one at the top was really well done. You know, it was probably 3,500, 4,000 words. It was actually really well done, but numbers 2, 3, 4, Maybe at 1200 words, like they would kind of thin you’re kind of weak.
It’s like, okay. I think there’s, I think there’s something here. And so that was something that ended up going after I called up a member of the cytosol nation community, who was like flipping furniture. We did a quick YouTube video, use some of his quotes to build out the article and just trying to build, build an asset.
That’s better than what’s out there today. Cause you got to believe that’s what Google wants to be.
Spencer Haws: So one more follow-up in terms of like turning your podcast episodes into a, you know, keyword, rich blog article that can rank longterm. Do you write additional content for the article or is it really just summarizing the podcast?
You know, everything that’s in the podcast, really just writing it out or do you add more to the article?
Nick Loper: Usually for the ones that I’m serious about for SEO, we’ll add more. So I’ve got to my show notes guy is awesome. He’s been doing it for years. So he does the summaries as the, as the episodes are completed.
And then for the ones that I think there’s a fighting chance, or maybe a worthwhile chance for ranking, it’s like, okay, I’ll go through. And and beef those up and add, you know, the FAQ’s and add just kind of different types of questions that maybe we didn’t cover on air, but would still be relevant to somebody searching for that topic.
And it’s, and I’ll add, it’s not for every episode because sometimes, you know, there are maybe there’s. No monetization incentive behind that, or maybe it’s just not something that we have a ton of related relevant content for it to kind of just be a standalone.
Spencer Haws: Okay. So other SEO strategies, you know, things that are, you know, podcast episodes, you’ve just maybe walk us through your process a little bit.
We didn’t talk a lot about how you’re looking at competition, but I think you mentioned, yeah, you’re kind of looking at domain authority a little bit. Yeah. If it looks like, you know, there’s some, some weak articles there you’re going to go after that keyword. What other sort of SEO strategies either on page or off page or otherwise have, have worked
Nick Loper: well?
Yeah, I focus a lot on the on-page stuff in trying to build. Kind of a technically sound type website first and foremost. Right? Like making sure, you know, I’ve never seen, like, I don’t know if you use like the H refs, like health score. Like I’ve never seen anybody get a hundred on this. I’m not, I’m not anywhere close, but I feel like the more boxes I can check off there, like if I could follow the best practices, I feel like I’m putting my best foot forward.
Same thing with search console. Like if there’s any errors that come up, I call to make sure that’s good. I want to make sure the site loads fast. I want to make sure there’s. Decent user experience once they, once they land on the site. So it’s been a lot of time on the on-page stuff. The H twos, you know, that kind of thing on the competition side, or I guess on the research side, I don’t have a bare minimum of search volume that I would look for.
I don’t know if you have a general rule, but like, you know yeah. A hundred, 500, you know, if it’s more fantastic, but like we’ve gone after keywords and what you often find is like, sure that primary term may only get a hundred searches or 500 searches. But like with all the variations, like that could add up to some serious traffic, that one, one article that’s doing really well right now, it’s like items to best items to flip for a profit or something.
Some random. Articles, you have a lot of articles on like flipping stuff. Like this is a very popular side hustle. You know, we have flipping cars, flipping sneakers, flipping houses, flipping domains, all sorts of stuff. So I was like, that’s the items to flip for a profit is I put together this article and it’s kind of stuck on the first page.
And on the, you know, there’s the sticker price of like, you know, the search volume for the keyword is a small fraction of the volume that the page actually gets. Don’t don’t discount, lower volume search terms for that reason, just say, well, okay, best case scenario, we’ll get a hundred visits a month.
Like you probably get a lot more because Google is smart enough to know about all these different variations. Then I’m looking at kind of search intent, right? Like what. Is a, is on the first page. So like on the flipping furniture example all the articles were related to that, like, you know, refinishing, rehabbing, reselling for a profit.
Right. That was kind of like, that was the angle that I was going after. One of the variations that came up during the research was like upcycling, oh, like upcycling furniture, like, oh, save it from the landfill, you know, rehab it, reuse it. And so when I searched upcycling furniture, Good housekeeping. It was better homes and gardens.
It was like much more on the Pinterest side of things. Like, oh, here’s how to do this for your own sake. Not necessarily to like resale on Facebook marketplace, which was really interesting. And let me know like, okay, that is not the variation. That I wanted it, that I want to go after it, because Google has said, this is somebody who is searching for that has different search intent.
Does that make
Spencer Haws: sense? Yeah. Yeah, that does make sense. And so you’re, you’re making sure that there’s maybe for lack of a better way of putting it is one way is to look, are there sites kind of like your site already ranking for yeah. Kind of topic. Right, right. Just make sure you’re kind of it’s in your wheelhouse.
Yes. So it makes a lot of sense. And then I have to imagine just the off page stuff is kind of taking care of itself just because of the growth of the side hustle show. And, you know, you’re, you’re mentioned a lot of places naturally. Is that just kind of what you find is that links are just kind of coming in as, as your popularity and your show is popularity.
Nick Loper: I do very little proactive link building and that’s not, I mean, that’s intentional, but it’s not very helpful for like somebody who’s who’s brand new. My bad. SEO accidental win was like one of the very first, very first articles that I published on side hustle nation was like this big list of side hustle ideas.
And it was like the default URL for that original version was like 79 dash side dash business dash ideas. And it was like, Not the world’s greatest URL, but it’s like, what if, what if we just made it slash ideas? Right. And the reason that was like the best accidental way, it was like now every time that I’m on somebody’s podcast.
Hey, where should people go to learn more about you? Cite us on nation.com/ideas is a fantastic place to start. This is my constantly updated laundry list of part-time business ideas. You can start today. No opt-in required. And so by virtue of doing that, like having an easy to say URL. Yeah. That’s been a huge win.
And so that’s, again, one of my top priority pages and that’s got a ton of podcasts backlinks from that. Yeah.
Spencer Haws: And it just turned another one. Probably we’ll put it in the show notes. Cause you mentioned it.
Nick Loper: Okay. Just force the force, somebody stand on that. Yeah. W w we’ll link that up in the show notes for you the other authentic.
Let’s start a podcast. Guesting has, has been huge for me. Nobody wanted to talk to me before I had a podcast, but, you know, by virtue of having that, that’s been really helpful. I have done a little bit more with help a reporter recently, you know, what I have found to be more effective on that front is looking for queries that appear to be like Roundup requests.
Like we were looking to. You know, several entrepreneurs on topic X, Y, Z, like you got a better chance because if they’re going to take 25 people, you’ve got a better chance. If they’re, then if they’re going to take one. So looking for stuff like that leading with your credentials, like instead of going straight into your pitch you could.
This is Nick from cytosol nation. You know, it’s a, an award-winning blog and community of 75,000 entrepreneur. Like, you know, I’m a TEDx speaker, multi-time author, like what, whatever you got, throw it out at the top, like build your, why should they listen to you? And so that’s been helpful in gaining some of those help a reporter back links.
I’m trying to think of other effective link building staff, one of the. One of the ones that’s been kind of, it took me a long again, long time to realize this was building, you know, them link bait pages. Like, so I have a side hustle, statistics page, which for the first several years of the site, it was just like the survey results.
And I wouldn’t even bother to change the. You know, the URL and finally got smart about that. Like, I don’t need to duplicate this content every two years. Like people probably aren’t interested in the survey results from, from 2014 anymore. So now it’s just, you know, side hustle, side hustle, statistics in the URL and includes data from the recent member survey.
It’s almost like, I don’t know, like in the, I used to work in the car business and, you know, there was a sh say hanging, you know, being number one sells cars. It’s kind of the same in SEO, like being number one or being on the first page builds links naturally because people are, you know, a lot of times journalists are looking for a source to site.
You could say, Hey, you know, here, these are the most popular side hustles, according to say destination. And so that kind of tends to, yeah. Some natural links. So if you can do the statistics page for your industry, I think that’s a good way to go. And going back to the ideas post, like I learned this at a traffic and conversion summit, where they called it, the fishbone strategy where it’s like, one of your first articles is this, you know, mega monster list of, you know, everything you need to know.
Topic XYZ. And in the early days, you link out to other people like who is the best resource on topic X, Y, Z, and you got this big old list, post, maybe 50 ideas. And when you first started out, it gives you an opportunity to reach out to all these people, because you’re brand new in the niche. Hey, I just featured you on this mega monster list.
Maybe they share it on social. Maybe they link back to it. Who knows? But in any case, like trying to build relationships with other players, And then over time, what I’ve found effective is trying to build for all of those. Like, okay. If idea number one on the list is affiliate marketing. Like, okay, what’s the best resource that we have.
Maybe it’s an interview on affiliate marketing. If item number two is like how to start the junk hauling business. Like, okay, well here’s the interview on how to start the junk calling this like right. Instead of sending people outbound, like trying to build those inbound links and get people spidering deeper and deeper into your.
Spencer Haws: Yeah. I like that. So creating whatever massive resource that is. And then yeah, over time, filling that out with your actual articles that you can link to. That is more in depth on a particular topic. So some good takeaways there that people can create, something like that. They can create a statistics page or I guess another way to think about it is just creating pages that are really in depth that are easily linked to, right.
That are very clear what they are, whether that’s, you know, like you said, your ideas page statistics, page et cetera. So. So I do want to talk just a little bit more about the side hustle show itself, because like you’ve said, it has just taken off. I mean, it has for a number of years now, it’s, it’s been, you know, a huge podcast.
And I think you mentioned in your last quarterly report that it’s getting something like 10,000 downloads a day which is huge. So congrats on that. What, what are some of the reasons for the success of the show?
Nick Loper: I think consistency first and foremost, like been, I don’t think I’ve missed a Thursday since probably Christmas or Thanksgiving, like the very first year.
So it’s been a, it’s been very consistent. I think it, I mean, like all podcasts, right? Thrives on word of mouth. Right? And so if you can source the story that people haven’t heard on a dozen other shows that checks the boxes for me, it’s like, okay. Interesting low barrier to entry easily duplicatable.
Low startup costs. Like those are the types of ideas that I see performing the best. And if you can kind of check that box of, you know, people kind of naturally want to share that, even if it’s something that they might not necessarily want to do themselves, they they forward it to their friends.
Like, so I had a woman on who was doing like a pet waste removal, like a pooper scooper business. And she was, she was doing like a thousand bucks a week. Revenue like is just like, as long as the dog is still around, like they’re going to need this service. And it was fascinating, obviously not the most glamorous business in the world, but it was one of these like super low barrier to entry.
I had a lot of specialized skill required and hit this check this box for recurring recurring clients. I was like, huh. So stuff like that, you know, unearthing those types of stories, I think lends itself. To word of mouth. And then I think the unfair advantage that the podcast has over a lot of other shows is.
You know, constantly bringing in new people through, you know, dozens of different articles on Google, even if it’s not a dedicated podcast episode, per se, even if they land on the ideas page and have no idea that the side hustle show exists, they’re probably going to know by the, by the time they reached the bottom of that, because, you know, I’ve referenced, you know, a dozen different episodes that, that people might want to check.
Spencer Haws: Yep. So you do a good job of sort of promoting yourself through your blog to go listen to the side hustle show. Do you do any other type of promotion of your podcast or the show either when a new episode comes out or just in general?
Nick Loper: I mean, the main thing that I do is email the list, say, Hey guys, here’s the.
Here’s the latest episode. Here’s what you’re going to learn. I spend probably more time than I would like on, I mean, it’s like, I dunno if you find that the same way, like once you have a subject line, the rest of the email kind of writes itself. So oftentimes I’ll start at the bottom and try and work, like work my way up because like the closer you get to the top, you’re like, I really need a hook.
I really need that subject line. But it’s a constant battle on usually Wednesday nights. I draft those after the kids go to bed and it’s just that’s the bulk of the podcast promotion stuff. One thing actually was playing around with this morning was a podcast referral program because I would love to be able to kind of reward people for sharing, like the existing word of mouth.
Flywheel is, is awesome, but like, Could you add some grease to the wheels? Like if you were like, oh, you know, refer 10 people, get some swag or referred 20 people, you know, I’ll give you free access to my course or whatever. I would love to. You know I would love to test that out. And so that’s kind of the the next project to see if see if that can grease the grease, the wheels a little bit.
Spencer Haws: That would be cool. If you could figure out something like that. I imagine it might be hard to track and I don’t even know how you’d go about doing that, but you know, if you can figure out a way to do that right. And help people out, that’s a good, yeah.
Nick Loper: I will, I’ll be happy to report back.
And if I have any results positive, you’ll see it in the next progress report. If it worked or if it didn’t
Spencer Haws: work. There we go. So what about podcast, sponsorships? Is that a significant portion of sort of the overall revenue of side hustle nation? And just how is that going in general?
Nick Loper: It, it is, it’s not.
It’s not an insignificant stream. So on any given month, that’s probably 25 to 40% of the, of the profits for the business. So it’s not it’s not nothing it’s been. Well, I guess I’m also grateful to be in the position to be able to say no to most sponsors, they come like either this is not a great fit or it’s like a startup without much attraction.
Cause I took those sponsors years ago and now it’s like, they’re still baked into the episode, even though the sponsor is like long gone or they’ve pivoted. And now the ad doesn’t make any sense. It’s like, okay. You know, as long as it’s a well-established company. Yeah. And especially if it’s something that I use and trust and like, that’s a big bonus and we’ve had, you know, sponsors keep coming back for years and years, like Skillshare and FreshBooks.
I mean, if you listen to the show, they’re like, oh yeah, all the time. But they must, it must be seen results from it because they keep coming back. They’ve been on four or five years a piece at this point.
Spencer Haws: So can you give us maybe just a percentage breakdown you kind of gave us, you know, maybe 20 to 40%, just depending on the month is maybe podcast sponsorships.
What sort of the percentage of affiliate revenue, the business as a whole, you know, affiliate revenue, any other sponsorships or anything like that?
Nick Loper: Yeah, the bulk of the rest of the pie is going to be affiliate stuff. So that’s going to fill in the other pretty much everything else, 70%, 80% of the rest.
And then, you know, 10% is, you know, the self published books on Amazon and kind of the other little, little things they do add up, but they’re not not going to be a full-time income on their own, at least, at least for me.
Spencer Haws: Yeah. Yep. No, that makes sense. And I noticed a link. On your website for sponsorships.
Is that only for the podcast or do you also do like banner ads or anything like that on the blog? I
Nick Loper: haven’t done any banners. Haven’t done any email newsletter sponsors yet. But maybe open to testing some of that stuff. Yeah,
Spencer Haws: I’m. I might be willing to be one of your first clients. If you want to test out the old email, a newsletter sponsorship, I’d love to get a mention in there.
No th that actually is, it’s sort of a fascinating story. Trend in a way. I mean, newsletters have been around forever, right. Email lists, but there seems like there’s more and more people that all they have as a newsletter. And it’s monetized with sponsorships and ads. And I know some people that are doing pretty well with that, they just build up an email list of 50,000 people.
They got their weekly sponsorships and yeah, quite
Nick Loper: a bit. Yeah. This is definitely one of the hottest side hustles going right now. And if I were to start a new business, this is probably the one that’s at the top of the list, this newsletter model, and specifically the like curated newsletter model where it’s like, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be your original work, but it’s like, here are the three coolest things that I found about.
Parenting this week about gardening this week, about what, you know, whatever your niche is. It’s it’s fascinating to me because, you know, for years and years, like create content, create content. Well, what’s the point of the content, build your email list, the money’s in the list and it’s like, well, these people just kind of cut out that whole content piece of the list.
It’s true is the asset is the business. It’s really it’s really interesting. And like you said, monetized with sponsors, monetize with affiliates, monetize with your own products and services down the road. There’s a lot of flexibility. Once you have people paying attention to you and. You know, people blown up on sub substan, even charging for the newsletter, which is kind of an interesting way to go.
Lots of, I think there’s a lot of opportunity in that space because number one, like you’re a super valuable to the subscribers. Like you, you, if you, if you’re saying these are the best three articles that I need to read this week or today thank you. First of all, for cutting through all the clutter out there, right.
You are, you are awesome. You’re my new best friend. And it becomes part of their like weekly routine or daily routines. Like for me, like one of my favorites is all star money in the personal finance space, which is a project from Motley fool. And. Jay money who used to run budgets are sexy. The hustle does a great job trends does a great job.
Like there’s some cool examples out there that yeah, like I said, if I was going to start a new project right now that this might be high on the list. Yeah. Really
Spencer Haws: low barrier to entry. Th th the challenge becomes sort of building that funnel right. Of how do you grow the email list, right. Which, you know, that goes into a lot of classic sort of marketing strategies.
You mentioned the hustle. They’re the ones I believe that just sold to HubSpot for something. Yeah. I don’t think it was revealed, but like $75 million is like the guests or something like that. So an insane amount of money. Of course they had, I don’t know how many millions of subscribers on their list.
But clearly a business model that is working for a lot of people. Yeah,
Nick Loper: it’s weird. It’s like, well, email is dead. I know my relationship with email has certainly changed over the years, but email is very much alive and well,
Spencer Haws: yes, yes it is. So before we wrap up here you’ve shared a lot of your SEO tips, both for your virtual assistant site and for site hustle nation.
You’ve recently. A essentially an SEO course. I mean, it’s called the traffic course. So why don’t you give us an insight on what that is? Why did you launch
Nick Loper: that? You bet. So this was in response to the cytosol nation survey. Like I asked what, you know, what are you struggling with? And oftentimes the big three were like growth ideas and I forget what the other one was, but like, you know, figuring out how to grow your existing side hustle and coming up with your initial site, as the idea in the first place, it’s like, well, there’s, there’s 400 something episodes, like go pick something like on the idea.
It’s about, there’s plenty of stuff out there on the traffic front, like, okay, this is a pain point that comes up year after year. And I’ve had some. Success, but it did take me a long time to figure out what worked on that front. So put together the traffic course to kind of address that kind of like here is the 80 20 of what you need to know for SEO without we have to in a ton of proactive link building and all this kind of tedious stuff, but it’s been.
People are seeing some good results from it so far, which is really rewarding. I mean, that’s the most important thing, like does this, that stuff works for me, but is it going to work for other people? It looks like so far. The answer to that is yes. And it goes through a lot of the stuff that we’ve covered today from the foundation of your site, to the keyword research and content production process.
And then a lot of the on-page. Tweaks and optimizations that you can make to your existing content that maybe is, you know, bottom of page one, top of page two, like how can we, you know, give it that little push that it needs to start getting a few more eyeballs over to it. Yeah.
Spencer Haws: And I know that’s a strategy.
We didn’t touch on much here during our discussion, but I know that you’ve done that a lot over the years, updating old content tweaking, old content. Is that kind of still one of your biggest SEO strategies is, is going through all times. It
Nick Loper: really is. And it’s at first I was like, well, you know, when, when I back, when I viewed blogging as a personal journal and like, this was the update from January 11th, you know, 2014, like it, it, you know, it’s sacrilegious to go back and update like then now it’s disingenuous.
So what I did is I changed it to like last updated on this date. And you just want to make sure that it’s still relevant, still fresh. And as long as it’s not. A super timely like news style article. They’re got to go back and update the progress reports, but if it’s like a big list of ways to make extra money, yeah.
I want to make sure that’s updated for 2021. It’s it’s fascinating how quickly that can that can work. It seems like both Google and search searchers are rewarded. Recency, you know, especially if it’s a timely type of search. Well, all things being equal. I want the one that was updated last week versus the one from two years ago, so yeah.
Okay. It’s definitely been a powerful factor. Some of the stuff that we’ll go in and do to those posts, maybe it’s adding word count. Maybe it’s adding frequently asked questions. Maybe it’s updating the H2O is like based on the different search volumes in. Search console, but just, you know, oftentimes little tweaks to something that you already have created adding internal links.
I mean, you’ve got link whisper going on to say like, oh, this is, this is a page that, you know, the site owner thinks is important. He’s got a lot of content pointing to it. So maybe, maybe Google will pay a little bit more attention to it there too.
Spencer Haws: So who is the course really best suited for? You know, what, what’s kind of the person that would get the most value out of it.
Nick Loper: Yeah, the sweet spot. Customer is the blogger online business owner who has started. They’ve created some content. They’re seeing a little bit of traction by are just ready to kind of pour some fuel on the fire, shortcut their learning curve a little bit, because like I said, man, thousands of, of blog posts, like before I kind of understood like, oh, maybe we should write about what people are actually looking for instead of what you want to write about today.
Like, It’s great as a creative outlet. Like I’m all for the practice of writing, but for running it as a business, like maybe a little bit of intention and strategy behind it tends to help out a lot. So that’s kind of the demographic that seems to be getting the most out of it. So far, these bloggers business owners who have something going on, but aren’t quite, aren’t quite cracking the code.
Spencer Haws: So if people want to check that out, I’ll set up a link where people can do that at niche pursuits.com/traffic course just traffic course, and people can go check out what that is. And we’d like to maybe offer something a small bonus here. So Nick w if you know, niche, pursuits, listeners want to go check that out?
What’s something that they can get
Nick Loper: you back. Oh my gosh. I feel like I owe a ton to. You Spencer and the new pursuits community and audience, you know, over the years, like, I feel like these are, these are my people. One thing that I would love to do it actually has been a ton of fun. So far as to do a couple of special office hours sessions for the niche pursuits community, they come in to the course, which is something that I don’t normally, I don’t normally do just because of the, you know, the time involved, but they have been a ton of fun.
And just to hang out, get some questions answered, see what other people are working on. And see what we can do to optimize what you got.
Spencer Haws: Yeah. Yeah. That’ll be good chance for people to kind of connect with you a couple of times to, yeah. Like you said, either ask some questions that they might have, or at least listening to issues that other people are having.
Get a little bit more depth into the mindset here of Nick Loper and some of his SEO strategies. And so, no, that, that’s great. Thank you for doing that. So if people wanna check that out again they can go through that link niche, pursuits.com/traffic course, make sure to get hook you up with that bonus office hours as well.
But overall, Nick, it has been awesome having you back on the show. I can’t believe it’s been eight years. Since you wasted four, that’s crazy, but it is good to catch up. Really appreciate all the wisdom that you’ve shared. And once again, just congrats on the success of side hustle, nation.com. You bet.
Thank you, man. Thanks a lot.