Are you side-hustling on your blog? Working on it whenever you can find time while balancing a job, family, or whatever other obligation you may have?
If so, then today’s Niche Pursuits podcast episode will give you an incredible boost of inspiration.
Jen Biswas has 3 kids, and when she started building sites, her husband worked 13-hour days. She only had a few hours each day to work on her own thing, but luckily she used that time well.
Initially she knew very little about SEO and focused more on Pinterest and influencer marketing.
Eventually, she decided she wanted to focus more long term. And that’s when she began learning about SEO. She used courses and help to learn fast and turned her site’s strategy around.
Her site now fluctuates between 250-450k pageviews a month, generating roughly $30,000 a month.
Since the beginning of 2020, she’s gone on to start 4 more sites using the same SEO-powered approach for an additional $5-10k a month.
Her story really has something for everyone. And she shares a ton of helpful advice.
So, whether you’re a new site owner – trying to reach job replacement income or a seasoned vet looking for cool tips and tactics that have been paying off, Jen’s experience will bring great value!
Hope you enjoy.
Topics Jen Biswas Covers
- How she manages to balance so many responsibilities
- Why she shifted her focus away from social media to SEO
- How to choose the best brand deals
- Her process for updating content
- Her monetization breakdown
- The affiliate approach that created a lot of success
- Her unique outsourcing approach
- Prioritizing her time towards long-term goals
- Why she started her second site
- The secret to her portfolio’s success
- How she grows her sites so quickly
- Whether she spends time building links
- How she successfully transferred underperforming content from one site to another
- Her strategy for succeeding with Google web stories
- Taking advantage of Google trends for topic ideas
- Why she decided to buy a website & the pros and cons of the process
- How she manages her portfolio of 5 sites
- And more…
Links & Resources
This Episode is Sponsored by Stan Ventures
Watch the Interview
Read the Transcription
Jared: Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits Podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today we are joined by Jen Biswas. Jen. Thanks. Thanks for having me. Sure. It’s gonna be, uh, it’s great to have you here. Uh, we were talking before the, uh, before we started recording that, uh, I, I think you said the most common question you get is, I don’t know how you do it all.
I will echo that question. I’m really excited to dive into today because you’ve accomplished so much with seemingly so little time. I think it’s gonna be such a good inspiration for people. And then obviously, we’ll, we’ll get to dive into all the details of how you did it. Now that I kind of introed you that, that way, why don’t you kinda catch us up on, on what led you to where you’re at now, and then, and then we’ll go from there.
Jen: Yeah, sounds good. So, I kinda started blogging way back before it was like eight business, you know, I was one of the OGs like. Blog about what I ate that day and blagging about what I wore that day. That eventually transpired into a blog that I read with my sister back. Started it in like 2010 and that’s when like AdSense was a thing.
Yep. And we were like, oh my, we made 10 cents today. This is like the coolest thing ever. Sending all of our friends to our site to like click our links and all things. Then we kinda realized like, this isn’t really going anywhere. I actually transitioned that blog into a online shop, so I ran an online shop for about five years and I think my story’s a little bit different than many of the other people that you have on here because instead of going head first into blogging, I got interested in influencer marketing.
So when my site, or when my shop was going, I started getting approached by brands to do brand collaborations. Backing up a little bit, we had one child when I was running my shop, got pregnant with my second and. Those to 16 months apart . So we had 202. My husband also worked a, uh, crazy job working like 70 to 90 yard weeks.
So he was in a big help with like the family stuff. So I kinda worked, you know, early mornings, nap times, late at night. And when our second, before our second was born, that’s when influencer marketing was picking up. So I was getting approached by brands. My shop was growing, my husband was working crazy hours.
I had two two and I was like, I can’t do everything. I gotta pick something. So I kind of went down the influencer marketing route, you know, at that time it was so new. I was like, I don’t know if this is even gonna pan out, but we’re gonna try it. So shut down the shop. Um, I did actually take notes on like when this happened because it was a crazy time.
So, closed the shop down in, um, early 2018, switched it over to the blog. I still wasn’t like highly focused on the blog, but I did get, you know, traffic through Pinterest that was big and then, you know, did a lot of influencer marketing through Instagram. I had a friend tell me about Media Vine and Ad Thrive and how you can actually make money with advertising.
So then I was like, okay, I’m getting on Media Vine by the end of the year. So I really actually did a lot of work through Pinterest and I dabbled a little bit with seo, but not a lot. Got on meeting mine the end of 2018 with my main site. Again, like a little bit of seo, but not a ton. Really relied on social media and Pinterest to drive my traffic.
Early. In 2020, I decided to do an SEO audit. I really had no idea what they were even gonna do, but went through that and it was a great learning experience for me on, you know, changes I should make. They had a ton of recommendations, so went through all that. The end of 2020, I actually took a couple courses on seo.
Something that I really realize is you can learn a lot about all these different things and you can apply them all, but what one person says doesn’t always work for your site. So I try to get a good knowledge of a bunch of different people’s ideas and implement what I thought would work and try different things to see what would work best with my site.
So I did that and started implementing, you know, really heavy SEO stuff in 2021 that kind of like catapulted my main site into what it is today. I also, when I, when I got on a media vine and understood, you know, uh, advertising and affiliate marketing, I decided maybe I should try to replicate this with other sites.
So I convinced my dad and my sister to join me on a travel site. So we actually started a travel. Early in 2020. Ah, yes. You know, a travel site starting January, 2020, March, 2020, nothing’s happening in the travel world. So that was, even though the smartest idea, but we got our site ramped up. Um,
Jared: and actually got never a better, never a better definition of hindsight is 2020, right?
Jen: Exactly. . But in, you know, we actually were like, well, our state was ramping up. Nothing happens the first year of, of a website anyway, so it wasn’t, it was fine. We got that one on media of mine in, when was that? I think it was February. No, it was a year and a half. So 2021. I think it was like July, June, July of 2021.
So it took a year and a half. But that one was actually fairly quick to get a media line, especially being in travel. During that time. And then, sorry, is this like way too much information? I think everyone’s
Jared: gonna like it. Trust me.
Jen: We’re gonna keep going. So then I also decided the end of 2020. So my husband worked in insane hours, like absolutely insane hours.
We were taking a staycation, um, locally where in Minneapolis, where we live, he was supposed to take, you know, three days off, had to work the entire three days. And I was like, that’s it. I’m starting another website to get you out of your job because this is terrible. So I started another website, the end of 2020, and then I also, in 2021, realized I had an entire niche on my main lifestyle site that got no traffic.
It, you know, I didn’t get any SEO traffic. I got a little bit of Pinterest traffic, but I had about roughly 30 or 40 articles on my main lifestyle site that did absolutely nothing. It’s a plant niche. I’ll share it. I’m more of an open book, so it’s all plant. So I’ll plant content. Did absolutely nothing. I decided what if I take all of that planned content, put it on its own niche site and see what happens?
I had many experts tell me that was a terrible idea. Don’t do it. Just let you know. Let it be where it is. I didn’t listen to anyone and I just moved it all over and it like exploded. So all of the traffic that I wasn’t getting there moved it over. It’s all plans and I started getting a ton of traffic to that.
I got that one actually on media mine roughly a year later. I also did a lot of web stories with that one too, and that one also helped get me on media mine quickly, and then my husband actually was able to quit his job at the end of the year or last year. In 2021 and we purchased a food specific niche site, um, earlier this year in March, April.
That was our first experience with buying sites and we’ve kind of taken that one over as doing all the technical stuff with that, revamping stuff, writing and content. And that brings us to today. So I have five sites, four that I built from the ground up, one that we purchased.
Jared: Look at that. So you brought it all back and tied a bow on it,
Well, I’m already both overwhelmed and have a ton of questions. Good thing we have, it’s
Jen: very overwhelming. I mean, ill say that many days I’m like, my head is spinning and I like don’t even know what I’m doing
Jared: anymore. But I wouldn’t even know how to put together a to-do list to be honest with you, let alone, uh, actually achieve that.
So many questions. Yeah. I’ve got so many threads we can go down here and I think there’s gonna be something in this for almost everyone, for the various things you’re talking about. Catch us up though right now. If you can. Let’s set the stage for the rest of the conversation. Uh, anything you’re comfortable sharing, any websites that, that you have, any traffic numbers, maybe an overall portfolio, um, uh, revenue if you could, or rough ballpark of profitability.
Just some things to give us context, uh, around these five sites of yours.
Jen: Yeah, my main site, it’s lifestyle site, it’s paisley and sparrow.com. Uh, it’s very lifestyley. It’s not as specific niche, um, but it’s lifestyle. So that one has been going the longest and I have. Between, you know, 200, let’s say two 50 to 4 50, 200 50,000 to four 50,000 page views a month.
Um, that one I generate roughly 30,000, um, a month in income. And then between all of the other four sites, um, I didn’t do the math, but it’s probably between five and 10,000 a month in revenue for those,
Jared: so, very good, very good. You said your husband has, um, has left his full-time job and joined the forces.
He did, yeah. Congratulations. Yeah. There’s two of you to tackle this and normal, and I guess you said your dad and your sister as. Yep.
Jen: I’m like getting everybody roped in. This is fun, and let’s do
Jared: this. We’re gonna get done with this podcast. You’re gonna rope me somehow into working with you on a site.
Jen: Yeah, it’s great. I actually was running a marathon. I’m getting my running coach involved. I’m like, we’re gonna running and you’re gonna be my writer, .
Jared: Just, you know, gonna keep going. Well, congratulations on the success. That’s a big deal. Um, and I mean, it’s, it’s not to be taken lightly. I mean, this is, uh, this is a difficult task and you did it on the back of seemingly, you know, talk about side hustling, right?
Like seemingly unprecedented amounts of additional responsibilities in your personal life, your family life, these sorts of things. Mm-hmm. , we can just kick off by tackling this topic from a high level because a lot of people who are listening are trying to start their first project or trying to do a side hustle basically amidst circumstances like yours, parenting and full-time jobs, and having a hard time finding time and balance.
Can we, like, how did you end up pulling it off? Which I know is a very broad question, but how did you go about really prioritizing where to put your time and accomplishing this?
Jen: Yeah, I will say it’s always the not glamorous answer of I, you know, I get up at five in the morning pre, you know, pre office.
I’d get up at five in the morning to get two hours of work before the kids are up. I would work nap times, I would work late at night. Um, it’s a lot of hard work and you don’t see a lot of results in the beginning. Um, which I think is really frustrating for people of, like, you work, you work, you work in this industry.
It takes 1, 2, 3 years before you can actually see anything. I am that personality where I’m like, I’m gonna do it. I’ve seen people do it. I’ve heard the results. I can do this. And then just understanding of. What is worth putting my mind or my time and my effort into? I think a lot of people, you know, they chase the shiny penny and oh’s fantastic right now.
So I’m gonna be on TikTok. Oh, I’m gonna do, you know, and when I actually was getting serious about my blog, I had to pull away from social media and that type of, and I wasn’t making money through those things. So it’s kind of like, I’m not, I’m gonna take less money from social media and I’m gonna really focus in on SEO and I’m gonna create content and I’m gonna, you know, have a very technically sound website because I believe that that’s the long game.
You know, it’s great to have a brand deal and make quick, easy money, quick, easy money through a brand deal on Instagram. But in the long run, I want my site to be sustainable. I want my site to make, you know, good money for the long haul. So then in the end, it’s less work for me because I’ve set this up for.
Jared: For those people who have perhaps focused on non SEO tactics with their website. Cause it sounds like that’s a bit of what you had. You had a site that was doing great on Pinterest, which, you know, a lot of people are experiencing a lot of traffic losses from, from Pinterest over the years. You had a site that was kind of influencer marketing, which is really kind of exciting.
But like you talked about, you’re kind of always chasing that next deal. Mm-hmm. what, um, like how did you get out of not focusing on SEO and into focusing on seo? Because it’s not like it’s, uh, you know, it’s not like SEO’s just easy to pick up overnight.
Jen: Yeah. So you’re asking like what I did to like get into seo?
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Like, because clearly you had a very fairly quick success trajectory. You were working with a site that already had some history going for it. But it sounds like, if I’m reading between the lines, it hadn’t been done properly for seo, so you kind of had this site. Was sitting there, it had a lot of influence, but had no SEO going for it if at, if at all.
So how’d you go about transitioning that site to being focused on SEO when you didn’t really maybe know much about it?
Jen: Yeah, my biggest thing was taking some courses and I actually worked with a person locally here who, you know, gave me lots of guidelines and advice. So then that way, like moving forward, I knew keyboard research, I knew how to set up a site or set up an article correctly.
I knew all the how-tos for moving forward. And then I also took that information and went backwards and went through probably at least half of my posts to revamp ’em, to make them actually friendly to get some traffic that way.
Jared: Did you find that most of the growth in your, on your main site was result of updating your old post or a result of focusing on new content and writing new content that was optimized?
Jen: So initially I would say moving, it was the new content because previous to that, I was just writing about whatever I wanted to, you know, I was writing about not nothing that was keyword research based. Mm-hmm. . So I wasn’t really getting a lot of traffic that way until I understood keyword research and understood, you know, age reps and all of that.
There was a handful of posts that I did go back and revamp, but from that point on, from what I first understood seo. It was more so the new posts that I had created moving forward. However, now I would say I’ll go back now and I, I update at least two posts a week from my main site to update them for a better SEO and that, so I had already picked the right keyword and now I’m going back and just fixing them and making them better.
But in the beginning it was more so the new post moving forward.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. How do you go about your keyword research? Uh, you know, maybe back then maybe how it is
Jen: now. Yeah. It’s kind of ever changing. I use a reps, that’s kind of my big thing. I used to have this very technical thing and I, you know, with full different competitors sites, figure out what keywords they’re ranking for, what I can actually ring for now.
It’s a mix of that. And also just, I will go through like tons of ideas that I have. I’ll create a, you know, a giant list of. Ideas I have put them through into hfs and I’ll look at a different, different, um, uh, specifics such as their dr. I won’t go after a keyword that has everyone’s ranking like 50 or their DRS 50 plus or Right, you know, my, none of mine are over 50, so I’ll try to make it where the dr This might get a little technical, but, so I’ll look up the board and say if there is a site that is, has a DR that’s mine or lower and is rank is getting over 50 hits a month, that’s a keyword that I would go for.
Does that make sense? Makes total sense. Yeah. Super. It’s something that’s like everyone’s, you know, high drs then I don’t even rank for it or I don’t even try. If it’s something that I’m interested in, then I’ll go through and like look at related phrases to see if there’s something that’s related to that that I can rank for.
Jared: So yeah, go through, yeah, go through competitors, find, um, keywords they’re ranking for, and then weed out results that, um, that are too competitive. You know, that, that, and using domain rating as, as a great example of, of what’s competitive because if someone’s got a much higher DR than you, then you know, it’ll be harder to beat them out just on pure, uh, SEO metrics alone.
Right? Yep, exactly. That’s great. Mm-hmm. , that’s great. Let me ask you, so you are going back and updating content and, and we’ll get into some of the other stuff about this site that I think is, is really fascinating. But before I, we kinda move on from that. You mentioned you’re going back and updating old content.
I’m curious what your criteria is, like how do you determine which maybe two posts a week, I think you said. Mm-hmm. that you go back and update and what do you do when you, when you update these.
Jen: Yeah, so I always pick posts that are on page, like two or three of, of Google. Anything lower. It’s not a huge, it’s not not really gonna do much.
Or if I know that a post is ranking on page one, that is order to be found, found anymore, and then we’ll go through, actually I have a team of gals who help me. So we’ll go through, we’ll add FAQs. We will, I do, on my main site, I’ll do a lot of like shopping posts. So I’ll, I’ll make it more, um, user friendly.
So I’ll, you know, have all the shopping links at the top at that, at the top. And then more information in the bottom. Um, just beefing up content. Um, I’ll put a lot of it is, you know, adding in more FAQs and just really making the content a little bit more user friendly and more.
Jared: Perfect. Let’s talk about the main site there.
Um, you had mentioned it at the outset, paisley and sparrow.com. What, uh, like how are the, maybe break down the monetization channels for us so we understand if you’re kind of more affiliate or more ad revenue. Talk about media Vine. So certainly that that ad revenue’s gonna have a play there. How do you monetize that site specifically?
Jen: Yep. So it’s ad revenue, um, affiliate, and then brand work. And it’s, I would say affiliate and ad revenue are actually pretty equal. They probably make up about 80% and then the rest is brand
Jared: work. Okay. Yeah. So you, you, you do, um, when you say affiliate, is it, is it all Amazon or is it other
Jen: products? Yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of Amazon.
I do a lot of Amazon. Um, and then I work with Reward Style and Share Sale. A couple other specific ones. And I also, something that’s really helped me is working specifically with brands. So I, I have a few like, you know, direct partnerships with brands and creating content around that brand specifically, um, has really helped.
Just really great residual or passive income.
Jared: Is that something you pursued? I mean, you talked about your history and influencer marketing and you were working with a lot of brands, so there’s a lot of that left over from that, or do you actually have kind of a, a way that you go about working with brands that you actually tactically, uh, tactically, uh, work towards doing that?
Jen: so I actually was approached by one brand and that kind of opened my eyes to, um, working directly with them. I mean, so they approached me and I worked with them for six months or so, and I was like, this is, it’s so mutually beneficial. So I create content for them. They’re making a lot of more sales because I’m creating content and I’m making a lot more money because they give me a higher commission rate.
Um, and so that kind of was like my aha moment of if I, if I can create relationships with brands directly and then they’re more likely to give me a higher, a higher commission. Um, it’s a win-win for everybody. So I’ve been able to do that with a handful more brands. It’s, it is harder, I will say, especially if brands are, um, on the smaller size.
Um, but it’s been really, really great for me. And now that I have a track record, I can say, yeah, you know, I’ve made X amount of money with this brand in this time period and you know, I have proven that I can do that and, you know, gimme a chance. So
Jared: I’m just thinking about the person who might be wondering about going down that road and trying to pursue that.
I mean, do you have any tips for people who might be thinking about pursuing it? Maybe when to pursue it and when not to pursue it, right? Like when it’s just not a good use of your time, but then once people have the right amount of traffic or the right set of, uh, criteria, maybe some tips on how to go about doing that.
Jen: Yeah. One thing. So I get hit up by a lot of brands wanting for wanting me to be an affiliate for them. Um, and one thing I always do is I check the traffic. So I’ll go to hfs, I’ll put the brand into age refs and I’ll see is anyone even searching this brand? Is anyone even searching this type of product?
Um, if that’s the case. So the initial one that came into me, I Google them and or I put them into HFS and realize nobody was, had, had review posts on them or content about them, but everyone was searching for them. And so for me it was like an easy yes, I put up a review post and that’s kind of what catapulted our relationship.
And, and there was a lot of more content I could create about that one brand instead of just the one review post. So that was another thing. The one and done. It’s great cuz you can make money from that one post, but if you can create a ton of content regard related to one brand or one specific product, then that is a way to just continue the, the revenue going up.
Jared: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . All right. I have to ask you something specific about your, your website I think is interesting. I was looking at it last night as I was kind of get, getting ready for today. And, um, you have a couple things in your menu that are, I also say very monetizable, very affiliate focused. I, I just wanted to ask you.
You have a start here and in that you really go through, it looks like your top posts, or at least the articles you really want people going to. Um, I noticed you had a link that literally says Amazon at the top, and this link goes to your category, um, goes to uh, a bunch of different uh, no, no, it goes with the category page you have about Amazon and then, you know, and you’re about knee dropdown.
You have things like, where I shop, which is loaded full of, you know, good relevant affiliate links you have Shop my Instagram. So you’re, I don’t see that often you’re doing these things, they seem super intentful on your behalf. Talk about that a little bit like, cuz that’s not there by accident, is it?
Jen: No, it’s definitely not
Yeah. So one thing that I realize with, especially with like Amazon or these affiliates is if you can create content that is very user friendly and um, that people are searching for specifically, then your. Likelihood of getting a sale is so much higher. And then if they come to your site and they, you know, they came for a one shopping thing, they realize, oh, I love Amazon.
I’m gonna check out all of her Amazon stuff. It’s just another way to get people to stay on your site shop more. That I would say like affiliate kind of, I had started really focusing on, um, my ad revenue when I wanted to get on Media Vine. Once I was on media Mine, then I was like, there’s more to this. I don’t want all of my eggs in the media vine basket.
Cause you just never know. Um, and so I decided to, you know, really focus in on affiliate. Um, and so there’s a lot that plays in with that in what keywords I’m trying to go for, what articles I’m writing, how I’m writing those articles, how my site is set up for people to shop. Um, and that’s really been shown in, in my, uh, revenue with affiliates.
It’s really gone up a lot, um, just with being a little bit more strategic on how I’m trying to monetize. And trying to like include affiliate stuff in my content.
Jared: Well, you really have me thinking about it . You have me thinking about that. I’ve, I’ve heard of people in the past doing like a resources page, you know, or you know, so it sounds a little bit similar to that.
Just, um, really harnessing the trust you have with your readers and leveraging the fact that, hey, if you’re gonna go buy stuff, you’re here and you trust me. Well, let’s, uh, let’s make a deal. You know, why don’t you at least look at the things I recommend . Yeah, exactly. Uh, okay. Um, so let’s take a step back if we can.
Your website trajectory was quick in terms of the growth that it got. Uh, it sounds like about 2020 was when maybe 2019 you really started focusing this main site of yours on seo. Maybe go through the growth of that and what you did along the way to catapult it, I’m guessing, to get it to where it’s at.
For example, you weren’t writing all the content yourself. At some point you probably got some help. Um, I’m just curious, like what was the growth process like and how did you navigate that?
Jen: So I would say when I first started to focus in on seo, I didn’t wanna let Pinterest go away. So actually my first hire was my sister, um, because she is like a Pinterest guru and so I hired her on to manage my Pinterest cuz I didn’t wanna, you know, let that go.
But I also knew my time was better spent learning and understanding sbo. And I think, I think along the way I’ve kind of, once I hit a point of, okay, I no longer need to be doing x, hire that out and then focus my attention on something different. So I was creating all my own content with each additional site.
I was like, this is not sustainable. So, so I actually. More or less what I call a project manager for my main site, and then another gal who’s my project manager for two of my other sites. Um, so they kind of help with editing content, you know, sourcing photos, making sure links are properly linked, like all of the technical stuff.
And then we have a team of, you know, 10 to 15 writers who write all of our content. Um, so I do all the keyword research. Um, my team and I, we create all the outlines for them. We send them off to our writers, they write the content, and then we, um, edit the content and then put it up. So it’s a lot of logistics, , but it, it has been super helpful to have, you know, more or less a project manager to help manage.
My sites to it and keep ’em going
Jared: in in many ways. I, I just wanna call out. I think you went about it, uh, backwards to the approach that a lot of people go about it, not backwards and that it was wrong because clearly it was successful. But I think a lot of people will frame up their mindset of, I need to slowly get, you know, get out of doing everything.
Where do I start? And they might hire a writer at first you kind of started. Actually offloading the thing on your site that was most successful, the Pinterest side. Then you brought on, in essence, a project manager of sorts, and then from there started to work with writers. So I think it’s interesting the process you went through.
Um, did you think about hiring writers first and, and kind of, uh, negate that or uh, or did you kind of just stumble into these, uh, these hires you did based on, you know, kind of need or, or something like that?
Jen: Yeah, I would say I didn’t really understand having other people write your content for the longest time.
So when my first hire, she was really helpful with, you know, rewriting old content and um, helping with my newsletters and all of that. Um, and then I realized like, oh, you’re so helpful. And then she would also help create some of the content and I. Maybe I should hire writers. Um, so that was kind of my like, aha moment.
I was talking to a, a food blogger friend of mine and she’s like, oh, I don’t create any of my recipes. I outsource that. And I was like, that’s a thing, you can do that. Um, and so
Jared: mind blown. I
Jen: know. Well, and like, honestly, part of me being on this podcast was like, I’ve learned, I’ve learned so much from other people that I wanted to share because like, this is a, it’s an open seat.
Like blogging is like this giant seat. There’s a lot of fish, there’s a lot of players. Like, let’s all be nice and like be able to be willing to share things. Like that’s, that’s my whole thing. I got started because people shared ideas and you know, what they were making with me. So I’m all about like being able to help other people.
Um, so yeah, so then when I heard that people actually like outsource the writing, that’s when I was interested in that. So, Um, I do a lot of hiring with fiber. Um, and then I actually, one of my food sites, I hired a team of like professionals, professional food people. I am not a food person at all, so it’s very funny that I have two food related websites because I am not that at all.
So, you know, they’re super fantastic with like, this is their expertise, this is their, what their careers have been their whole life. Um, so, so they do all of the food stuff. So, yeah. But getting out of the writing has been a game changer for
Jared: me. You seem really good at managing. A lot and delegating. Well, I mean, any, are there any secrets you have or any tips you have for, I hate to use the word secrets.
Sorry. It’s a buzzword. But you know, I mean, I feel like, boy, you are really, really good at clearly focusing your day, your week, your month, your year on what matters, what, where you can have the greatest impact. And then bringing people on, training them up and giving them responsibilities. That’s not native to a lot of people, but I, it feels like a deep line thread in your success.
Jen: Yes, it has. And I honestly like, The thing that made that happen in me is literally having children because I went from my, you know, my husband’s working from 6:30 AM till 7:30 PM so I had all of that time to work and then all of a sudden there’s a tiny human in my life and my days are like, you know, two hours here, one hour here, 30 minutes here.
And so I really had to get focused in on what I need to do every day and what’s actually gonna change the trajectory of my business. And I think that part of it is getting actually real about what is making a difference, what is actually going to change the trajectory for me. You know, part of that for me was pulling out of Instagram, so as, as I saw my friends like, you know, a hundred k, do you know they’re growing and growing and growing.
Of course I want that. Mm-hmm. , but I also know I’m, my time is better spent growing my website, working on my seo, writing, you know, creating content, um, building all that. So then in the long run I’m set up for
Jared: success. Yeah. So you heard it here first. If you wanna explosively grow your website, have a kid, have a baby ,
Jen: and then have another one right away and then get another
Jared: one, then another one.
Uh, yeah. And have a partner that works, uh, more than full time .
Jen: Right. Yeah. I know that probably wasn’t very helpful, but I honest, like, I think the biggest thing is just really taking a deep dive into what is, what is actually changing your business? What is making you the money? Where is your time best worth spend and spend the time there even.
You know, something else looks better or seems better. You know, a lot of people ask me about Instagram and you know how to grow there and how, you know all that. And it’s just, for me, it’s just not worth my time. And I tell a lot of people like, what, what’s your out, what’s your goal? If your goal is to have a website that’s sustainable, making you good money, like spend the time there.
If your goal is to be famous on Instagram, spend your time there. It’s, you know, look at what your, your long term goal is and then spend the
Jared: time. No, I think it’s, I, I, I, I know we’re joking about, you know, have a kid, whatnot, but I think the overall point is, is really good. And you’re just a tactile example, a really tangible example of what happens when you, you know, you don’t need a ton of time if you are incredibly focused and diligent and goal-oriented about what you do with that time.
Yep. Um, and it’s just really good to hear cuz we can all, you know, there’s nothing wrong with wasting, you know, having free time and, and, and that sort of thing. That’s, that’s not really a conversation that we’re trying to have. It’s about being really focused and really detailed in how you use the time you have, whatever that looks like in your side hustle or in your business, um, online.
So it’s just a great example. Yeah. Um, I wanna ask you a couple questions, but maybe I’ll dovetail into it by asking like, what do you think is the number one reason that, you know, your website, obviously you have a number of websites, but maybe let’s just talk about Paisley and Sparrow. What’s the number one thing that makes it successful?
What, what, what has been maybe the one thing that you think has been done really well that has caused it to grow so well?
Jen: Consistency is probably the biggest thing. Um, I am constantly putting on new articles. I’m constantly rewriting old articles. I have a weekly newsletter that I send out. Um, we’ve never stopped doing the whole Pinterest game, and I’ve diversified.
I think diversifying my income has been super helpful in that, you know, you’re gonna have low months in affiliate, you’re gonna have low months in ad, but in the long run, you know, it’s, It’s all going up and it’s less stressful when you have different, different revenue streams. Um, for the, for the off months, for, you know, whichever one’s not having a great month.
Jared: Let, let’s talk a little bit, um, at some point, I think 2020, January, 2020 was the first. Uh, well, the second site you started, or the first time you started a site outside of your main site. Yep. Um, and you picked the, the travel niche, you know, might not have been the best decision was what was coming, but who’ve known.
Right. What caused you, we can laugh about it now. Yeah, we can laugh about it now. That’s the only reason why I’m able to, to poke a little fun at, um, I mean, who would, who would’ve thought what, what were the odds? But, um, you know, we talk about this a lot here in the podcast, like, what were the drivers for you to start a second site?
How did you evaluate that it was a good use of your time to start a second site versus, you know, obviously taking that time and just continuing to pour it into your main site. Like, what made you in January, 2020 decide that it was time to take that plunge into the next one?
Jen: Yeah, I think the biggest thing was just seeing the success that I had with my main site and realizing I had learned so much.
I had learned seo, I learned how to set up a website. I, you know, there’s so much that goes into the success of a website. And I kind of realized, okay, I learned that I, I’ve, you know, mastered that. Can I replicate it? Mm-hmm. . And so that was my first like, I think I can replicate it and, you know, doing it with my sister and my dad kind of made it a little bit less scary cuz I’m like, I have people helping me.
It’s not just on me. Um, and then when that one quickly took off, that’s when I was like, okay, I can do this. And so that’s where the additional blogs came to be when I, you know, when you, when you know that you can replicate the success, it takes away the fear and it takes away the what if this doesn’t happen, if it doesn’t happen to, it’s not a big deal, but when your track record shows that it can happen, um, It’s, it takes away the fear and the like scariness of starting in another site.
Jared: Mm-hmm. . That’s true. That’s, that’s a good point. The second site you started and then subsequently the remaining sites you have now, you were able to start with an SEO focus, right? Because the first site you had, you kind of, you started with a different model, an influencer model, a Pinterest model, but these sites, you’ve been able to start with an SEO focus.
Uh, have you gone about, how have you gone about starting them? What’s, um, you know, what’s your process for getting this site off the ground? Clearly your sites get off the ground relatively quickly, they do relatively well. You have success with these. What’s the process look like to start a new one?
Jen: Yeah, get as much content up as possible.
as quick as you can. So I really try to do a ton of keyword research before I even launch it first to make sure that it’s a, you know, applicable site that, or niche that has content that people are searching for. There’s a lot of work that goes into the actual starting of the site. So, um, that’s big of like knowing I have.
A hundred plus keywords to try to ring for. Um, and then I try, you know, I try to have a handful written before I actually get the site live, and then it’s literally just get as much content off as, as I can. That’s, you know, very SEO focused and technically sound.
Jared: Yep. How much of a, how big of a deal for you is, you know, this topic of, or this conversation around topical authority, um, you know, when you’re kind of starting a new site, do you try to stay really topically relevant in a tight, you know, silo structure as they might call it?
Do you kind of really narrow in on a certain topic or are you more broad in general? Maybe kind of like your, your, your first site, which is very successful. Mm-hmm. .
Jen: Yeah. I’m definitely more narrowed down. Yeah. All four of my additional sites are, are pretty specific, you know, smaller niche sites. Um, and I will say like the plants one alone has.
Kind of shown that I do it all indoor plants. Um, it’s not specific to like succulents or something like that, which I’ve seen, but it’s all indoor house plans. Um, and I think just showing, like taking those 30 plus articles off of my lifestyle site, putting them all onto one site and seeing it explode. Um, that was, that was also like an aha moment of, okay, like niche sites work.
Like you take all this content that is all related to one another, it’s all interlinking, it’s all related. You put it together on one site. Google’s gonna say, this is, this is plants like, and we’re gonna rank it higher for the plant content when it did absolutely nothing on our lifestyle site.
Jared: I, well, you, you’re leading right into it.
I have my notes that I really wanna talk about this. I was having a conversation with somebody on. A couple weeks ago about moving content off of their main site and starting a totally new site. Uh, it’s so fun that we get to have you on and ask you about it because you’ve done it, you’ve seen it be successful.
So let’s start with this, this content. Yeah. I think you said 30 or 40 Post was on your main, you know, very successful, uh, site. Uh, that was a little bit more general and the content wasn’t going anywhere. Had it previously been, been doing well and then it, it, um, it lost traffic or was it just content you published around a silo that just never went?
Jen: Yeah, exactly. It never went anywhere. So my Instagram, I share a lot about plants because I have a million plants and people were always asking about it. So for me, I’m like, oh, well I would do a plant post people, then I can send people to my website to learn how to grow a monster plan. Um, and so that’s kind of how it started was more or less like me saying people are asking about it on Instagram so I can send my them to my website.
Mm-hmm. , I was on Vine, I’ll get traffic that way. That was fine, but I didn’t get a very much traffic from that. Um, and I did get a handful of traffic from Pinterest, but it was only two, about two of the posts. And it was, it was mediocre. It wasn’t that great. Um, but literally none of it ranked on, on Google.
None of it like
Jared: it was. How long did you wait for it to try to.
Jen: Well, I actually, well, I would try to revamp it from time to time, but it kind of got to a point where I’m like, this is dumb. It’s never gonna rank. So I’m just like leaving it out there. And
Jared: yes. You waited a while, you
Jen: waited a while for it to Yeah, yeah, it was, I mean, it was probably up there for two, three years.
Jared: gosh. Okay. Yeah, a while. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So where’d you get this idea and how did you pull it off? Did you, um, pull it down and leave it down for a while before putting it up in the news site? Did you set up 3 0 1 redirects to the news site? Like, you know, walk us through the actual process.
Jen: Yep. So really it kind of started with, um, starting the travel site and seeing the success with that.
And then, um, just being like, I have all this content. I, I finally like, looked back and I was like, I have, you know, like 30 some articles on this site that’s doing absolutely nothing. So, I’m also, I’m an activator, so if I’m like, I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do it today. So I literally sat down one day.
I’m like, ok,
Jared: you had me fooled . I’m kidding. That makes total sense.
Jen: Today’s agenda is starting a brand new site and getting all this site over. You’re
Jared: the type of person I would meet for coffee at 10:00 AM and you’re like, well, you know, I just, I woke up a little bit earlier today. I started a whole new
I, yeah, basically that. That’s me. That is . That is me.
Jared: So great. So,
Jen: So I, you know, started the thing. And one thing I did realize is I, some of the posts I needed to beef up a little bit. So I did, you know, as I put ’em over there, I just made sure that they were exa, you know, exactly how I wanted them SEO wise and FAQs and all that.
So some of them I did revamp a little, I would say half of ’em were literally like copy paste, put into the new site, um, set up 3 0 1 redirects. I, you know, deleted ’em from my, from my lifestyle site, set up a redirect over there. And then, honestly, so I moved them all over. It took, it did take like two weeks to get them all transferred over and then life got crazy and I just let ’em sit for probably a month or two before I actually started getting more content going.
And I could probably look back and see it. It did start to pick up like very quickly, which I was actually shocked about because it, they didn’t do anything on my lifestyle site, like absolutely nothing. And, you know, let’s see. So I started this site. In January of 2021 and by the end of the year I was getting close to 3000 hits from Google, from probably 40 articles.
Jared: So 3000 per day, per month, per,
Jen: oh, sorry, per month. Mm-hmm. , um, uh, looking at these stats now and then it got crazy and quadrupled to 16,000 in January.
Jared: Got it. So year later you were getting 16,000, uh, page views a
Jen: month. Yep. Um, that’s just from Google. Yeah. So then I did some other, um, I was still getting a little bit of Pinterest traffic from that one, not a ton.
Um, and then I also did web stories. I found that web stories for niche sites actually. Very well. Um, and so I started doing web stories for my plant site, um, which helped get me on media, buy an
Jared: extra quick. Let’s talk about that. We had Carrie, uh, Carrie for on probably, oh boy. I always undershoot how long ago it was.
I feel like every podcast interview I’ve, I’ve done was like three months ago, but that’s not the case. But it was, we’ll say three to six months to give me a broad range. And she talked a lot about the success web stories had for her food blog, which I was really taken aback by. Cuz we haven’t talked about web stories, we talked about a little bit there.
Uh, talk about your success with web stories. It sounds like it was specific to one side of yours or is it across your, your portfolio? You, you’re kind of implementing that
Jen: strategy. Yeah, so I’m using it with four of the sites and it varies with the success. I’m actually, um, I work directly with Google, um, in a cohort of other creators creating web stories.
We started this, um, about a year, year. When web stories were kicking off, they wanted to get more data, is kind of what I understand. I think they wanna get more data. So they have all these creators that are creating web stories, which was great. Cause then we got direct feedback on what was working, where to put links, all the things.
So I initially saw a ton of success in the beginning. I think part of it, people weren’t doing web stories, so those that were doing web stories, we had success. Great. In, in the beginning because there just wasn’t the competition. Um, now I would say, so I do a lot with Google Trends and I’ll look at, um, what’s trending and create stories based on what’s trending.
And then you’ll see stories go viral because it’s now trending. And the nice thing about that too is so like I’ve created content for the travel site, um, that I do with my dad and sister. And we just actually had one a couple weeks ago that went viral and we’re like, what is happening? Why is this post getting like all this site?
And we realized, There was a new, um, television show related to this web story that came out. So everyone was searching about this topic. We, we had a web story on it, so it went crazy. So the nice thing about that is like they can pop up months later. Um, but I do try to, you know, create new web stories based on what’s trending in Google, if I can figure it out.
Um, and I do think that niche sites are, have better success. I think, you know, it’s a very specific content. Um, they’ve, it’s just worked really well for me. So
Jared: it sounds like you are creating maybe specific topics for web stories rather than maybe one approach would be, I write the blog post that is keyword researched and keyword optimized, and then I make a web story out of it.
Would you say that the topics that do well on web stories are maybe unrelated to the topics that end up ranking? Well, for long, for organic search outta Google.
Jen: Yeah, so I was only, when I first started, I was only making web stories on, um, high ranking keywords. So I looked at all my top posts, that probably what I would do.
Yep. I was creating all the web stories and they were doing literally nothing for three months. I’m like all my friends, like, oh, web day, and none of them have done anything. And then I just kind of started like willy-nilly putting things out there. And you’re right, it’s like this random, I had one that was like, how to wake up early, and that one like got hundreds of thousands of hits.
I’m like, it’s not, it doesn’t, even in Google, like I don’t understand. So you’re right. I think it’s, it’s kind of like Pinterest where you throw the darts and you see what sticks and hopefully, you know, there’s an article about some of the topic that you did and that web story will go up, um, and or if you can find a trending keyword.
On Google trends that’s coming up. Then you know, you do your keyword or you do your web story based on what’s hopefully gonna be trending and hope for the best. I mean, a lot, I think we all know the website game is you throw
Jared: dart. Yeah, yeah. Something sticks. And when you think you have it mastered, you’re still throwing just more educated darts.
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, yeah, you’re aiming at one wall instead of all four walls. .
Jen: Right, exactly. I mean, I think like my whole thing of creating all these sites is after I did one, I was like, okay, I think I got it. Start another one. You know, there’s things that worked great, there’s other things that worked terrible, like, well I think I got it when I’m gonna start another one.
And again, it’s like you’re just constantly like changing, learning more. What works for this site doesn’t work for this site and. You keep going, ,
Jared: keep going. That’s a great way to put it. Um, speaking of going, we are running out of time. I’m gonna keep going, but I, I, um, I wanna respect your time. So I have, I wanna get to this, uh, buying a website before we leave because you, we’ve talked all about the sites.
You’ve started outside of your main one and you bought a website. Uh, what was that? Was that this year in 2022, you bought a website? Yeah. Okay. So what prompted you to go after buying a website rather than starting another one, especially when you have a track record of success with starting sites?
So when my husband quit his job, he was looking to buy a business and do that. He’s very business oriented. He’s, he’s my numbers guy. Like, he
Jared: didn’t wanna take over the plant site.
Jen: I mean, he could have, but . He, he, he at one point was like, ok, I’m gonna write articles for one of your sites. And he did one and he was like, that was terrible.
I’m never doing that again. Uh, my time is better used somewhere else. I’m like, exactly. So he was looking into purchasing a site, or not a site, purchasing a business. Mm. And um, he ultimately came across purchasing websites and he was like, well, here’s the deal. You know how to run a website, you know, seo, you know, the technical side, you know how to, you know, know if it’s a good niche, all the things he’s really good with, like the due diligence on, you know, the financial part of it.
And so we make a good team, right? Yeah. Yeah. And, and so, um, and he kind of was like, listen, we purchase a site. It’s, you know, a three year return until we get our money back on the site. Um, With your skill set, we could probably shorten that after you do what you need to do to, you know, get more traffic and all of the things.
Um, and so let’s try it. And I, and our first one we bought, it was a smaller site, so I think it was like a $45,000 investment. Um, but it was such a good learning experience for us to purchase a site, understanding that whole process. Cause it’s a, it’s a, it’s a wild process of purchasing sites and all of a sudden you’re the owner of this website and you’re like, why did, why is it set up like this?
Why did they do this? You
Jared: inherit all the challenges and upsides of, of, of the site. Yeah,
Jen: yeah, yeah. So it’s nice when, like, you have all this content there. Um, but there was a, the one that we purchased, there was a lot of things that I would’ve done differently had I started it from the ground up. Um, but it was good for us to learn, like, okay, moving forward, we’ll, we’ll probably purchase more in the future.
Um, And it was just a really good way for us to go through it and, and understand the process and, you know, what are things to look for? What are things to, I have a lot of questions now that I would ask a potential seller on their website. Um, yeah.
Jared: Did you buy it off a marketplace? Did you source it on your own or something like that?
I mean, I’m just curious where you turned when you started looking, um, to, to find
Jen: one. Yeah, we did it through Empire Flippers. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Um, and I will say it was really nice to have somebody else go through. So this site had a ton of affiliate, um, links that was the big part of their income, so they managed all the transferring of the links and all that.
So that was, that was, you know, really nice. I thought I was gonna have to go through all the links and change them, but they took care of that. So it was nice having like an actual person to go through. Manage all of that.
Jared: Yep. Uh, and, and, and so how, how’s this like, as we kind of wrap up, how’s the structure of, of your, of your portfolio now?
Cause we, it sounds like you have your husband playing a part. Uh, you have, you have other family that are, that are playing a part. You have people that work with you. Like what’s the structure look like for this, uh, this portfolio of five sites? Yeah,
Jen: so five sites, um, one is basically co-owned with my dad and sister, husband helps do random things in mainly the one that we purchased.
Um, I have two assistants who work part-time. Um, and then we have 10 to 15 contract writers.
Jared: Okay. What are the plans going forward? Like what is 20, 23 and beyond? You know, what, what are you guys focus on? Am I gonna talk to you in a year and you’re gonna have 35 sites, or are you gonna start to sell some off?
Or you, you know, what, what are the plans for you?
Jen: Yeah. Um, we likely will start new sites. Um, I’m always having ideas of random things in, it’s fun too. Now. My husband came in one day and he’s like, I think we should start one about lawnmowers. . I’m like, what? He’s like, I was researching new lawnmowers and I think there’s a need for lawn, a lawnmower niche.
So, um, we probably won’t start a lawn more niche website, but, um,
Jared: we never, you never know. You could have started by 10:00 AM
Jen: I You’re right, you’re right. . Um, we probably will start more sites. I think it’s really fun and it’s, uh, again, it’s, I’ve learned so much and so I just would love to keep replicating what I’ve learned and especially like understanding, like having a project manager who helps manage everything.
Having the writers who know what they’re doing and getting them set up. I think we’ve kind of created a system, um, in, in order to replicate. Um, the success that we’ve had. Um, so yeah, we’ll probably be making more, um, probably selling, selling off one or two in, you know, two to three years time. Um, and who knows?
I mean, hard to say where it’ll go. It’s hard to say, but for sure keep a couple for sure. Probably south a couple and more than likely either purchase or create a few more, um, in a couple
Jared: years. So I had this interview perfectly summed up just now, and I realized that I left off a major question. And so at the risk of totally diving back in, I have one more question for you.
I know in YouTube the comments will be there if I don’t ask this. And thank goodness people can’t comment the podcast or else they’d be saying the same thing. , um, you’ve grown this portfolio up and we didn’t ask about link building, one of the big components that sometimes goes into building sites, and yet sometimes.
Just touch on that. If we wrap up, um, how you guys handle link building, if you handle it at all across your sites.
Jen: Yeah. Um, to be very frank, I don’t do a lot of it. Um, I don’t do a lot of it. I used to do a lot when I first was getting introduced to SEO and everyone says, you have to link building, you have to do har, you have to do all the things.
So I tried in the beginning. Um, but again, it’s one of those things where, where’s my time best worth spent? Is it worth going on har every day, three times a day, replying to comments or questions that won’t ever get used? Or is it better spent creating quality content? And so for me it’s create quality content.
Mm-hmm. So I back backlinking and I do a lot of interlinking with my own sites, but as far as like building elsewhere other.
Jared: I had to ask, I had to ask, you know? Yeah. Yeah. It’s important to know. People are always curious because there’s, you know, good content links. These things play into the algorithm, but I think you have a great case study here for, for, uh, for, for content being the driver.
Yeah. Um, hey, you know, I just wanna reiterate it because we’ve gotten so into the weeds on, so of the things you do to grow your sites, like, I wanna make sure as we wrap up, we circle back. To me the most inspirational part of this entire thing is, again, how you were able to accomplish this with all the other things you had going on in your life.
And it’s just a great inspiration for all of us. I mean, we all sit down at seven 30 or eight o’clock at night, whether cuz we got the kids to bed or because we just wrapped up our day job or for whatever reason. And we have to make that decision each and every night. You know, if we’re gonna kind of focus on our projects or, uh, you know, turn on Netflix, it’s tough.
You’re a great inspiration for everyone that it’s possible to work nights, weekends, mornings, in between naps, et cetera, and still accomplish really great things on a fairly quick timeline. So I just, well done. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s gonna be an inspiration for a lot of people. Well, I hope
Jen: it helps and yeah, I, I think there’s not a lot of stories of moms who have littles in a husband with crazy hours who.
Has accomplished stuff. So I just want it to be a, you know, a testament of you can do it, you can do it, it’s a lot of work and have patience and you can do it.
Jared: And coffee, it sounds like , lots of coffee. . Where can, where can people follow along, uh, or get in touch with you if they wanted to?
Jen: Yeah, um, Paisley and Sparrow, my Instagram, feel free to DM me there.
I don’t unfortunately have like this wonderful business site that, or Twitter that you could, but Instagram’s a great place. Um, we’re actually, I’m in a mastermind with a couple of other bloggers here locally in, I’m in Minnesota, um, and we’re putting on a blogger conference in May, so they’re three, three of us are.
Have accomplished a lot in the last, you know, five plus years. So we’re hoping to share all that knowledge with people. And so that will be coming up if that’s something that’s interesting too.
Jared: So that would be, and so is beautiful in May. I’ve actually been there in May. Have you? Yes. It was lovely.
Jen: I know.
We’re like, we can’t do this in the winter cause nobody will come. .
Jared: I haven’t been there in the winter, but I’ve been in that area in the winter. It’s a little cold. Little chilly. Yeah, it is. Little chill. All right, well on that note, , uh, Jen, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today. Uh, really appreciate everything you had to share.
Thank you for being so open and honest and, uh, inspiring. So much take from today. Well,
Jen: thanks for having me. It’s fun.
Jared: All right, until we talk next time. See ya.