How to Make a $65k Per Month Living Blogging About Informational Content

How to Make a $65k Per Month Living Blogging About Informational Content

Interested in learning how to make a full-time income from blogging?  Today I’ve got some inspiration for you and perhaps someone that you can learn from.

Jon Dykstra is the founder of Fat Stacks, an online resource teaching others how to make a living blogging or building niche sites.

I’ve known Jon for a while now, and he is no stranger to us here at Niche Pursuits. Jon has been publishing niche sites as a professional blogger full time since 2012. 

As we all ride the Google wave, bracing ourselves for each new update, Jon has found ways to leverage other traffic sources with social media, Pinterest, paid advertising, and essentially no link building.

The best part? Jon is now making $65,000 a month from his blogging efforts!

So, I decided to ask Jon a few questions about how he got started, what strategies work well, and how others could follow in his foosteps as a full-time blogger.  You’ll find all his answers below.

Want to Learn from Jon?

Before I dive into the interview, I wanted to share that Jon actually does have a full collection of training material that teaches others how to make a living blogging.

Lucky for us, Jon is a fantastic teacher and better yet, has agreed to give the Niche Pursuits audience full access to ALL of his courses at a massive discount. 

This week only for you can get $200 off all of Jon’s courses for the one price. The courses are usually bundled together for $499, and you can only get the $200 off discount through my special link for this week only.

  1. Pinterest Magnate (Reg. $197): Learn precisely how Jon is driving massive (300,000 views +) with Pinterest each month!
  2. Long Tail Deep Dive (Reg. $97): How Jon makes a living blogging with long-tail keywords
  3. Content Site Autopilot (Reg. $147): A multi-module training program to show you how to create systems and processes for putting your content creation on autopilot.
  4. Natural Link Building Formula (Reg. $97): Learn how to attract links naturally with your blog post.
  5. Display Ads Deep Dive (Reg. $97): Your ultimate guide to monetizing niche sites and blogs with passive income display ads (i.e. AdSense and other ad networks).
  6. On-Site SEO Deep Dive (Reg. $147): Learn everything Jon does for on-site SEO (structure, schema, etc.) for ranking content. His search traffic isn’t an accident. It’s the result of setting up sites’ on-site SEO properly and publishing lots of killer content.
  7. Niche Exponential (Reg. $147): The ultimate guide to building specialty blogs such as recurring commission niche sites and others.

Get Access to the Fat Stacks Course Bundle Here

I recently caught up with Jon to find out what he is focused on, how his sites are performing, and some tips on making money blogging with niche sites. Here is what Jon had to say.

What are you working on right now with your sites?

Recently I streamlined my content publishing business by selling 6 sites with a 7th still on the chopping block with Motion Invest.  

That leaves me currently focusing on three sites. It’s looking like I’ll be scaling back even more and focus on only 3 sites. I’m once again merging content from one site to another.  

One of the three sites is Fat Stacks. Lately, I’ve been publishing quite a bit of long form content on that site to bolster search traffic.

My other two sites are run-of-the-mill content niche sites. They’re in different niches. One is quite large. The other is an up-and-comer recently hitting 150K monthly page views so it has real promise.

It’s been interesting expanding and then scaling back in a relatively short period of time. What I’ve learned is that I’m not a good fit for all niches.

I suspect that’s the case with many folks. My biggest niche site was an instant fit but other than Fat Stacks, finding another great fit took time. In fact, it tools launching a pile of sites to see what sticks.  

What makes a niche a good fit?

For me at this point a good niche is one where I can effortlessly find great topics to cover and then write killer content on those topics all the while enjoying the entire process. I’ve entered niches I thought would be fun but weren’t. They weren’t bad niches, just not quite as good of a fit as other niches.

How much are you currently making from your largest blog?

For the past three months (September, October and November) it’s been around $65,000 per month.

The lion’s share of that revenue is from display ads courtesy of AdThrive. Another $9,000 or so is from the video ad network Ex.co. And the $5K to $7K is from affiliate marketing, including Amazon and other merchants.

How much traffic does your largest blog currently get?

Traffic has grown to my biggest blog quite a bit over the last year. Over the last 30 days it topped 2 million sessions. About 1 million is from organic traffic. 336,000+/- is from Facebook. 218,000+/- is from Pinterest.

The rest is a smattering of sources.

Here’s a traffic screenshot for another niche site that I’m excited about:

And just so you know it’s not all fun and growth, here’s the traffic of one of my sites that took a beating from the very recent December 2020 Google algo update:

Why is informational content your go-to strategy to make money blogging?

I used to focus on affiliate marketing which requires focusing on a particular type of content that generates sales. It’s called pre-selling with buyer intent content. I still do some of this but it’s a very small percentage of my content strategy.

I love monetizing with ads because I can monetize any topic I want. I’m not stuck writing about products and commercial topics. I can write about how to find quartz crystals in North Vancouver and if that article gets traffic, I’ll make money.

A complementary benefit of that is I can seek out easy-to-rank keywords so that I can get decent traffic to content quickly without expensive or risky link building schemes.

Switching to focusing on display ads was a game-changer for my content publishing business.

Why are you focused on updating old content and what’s your strategy there?

When I first read about updating old content a couple years ago I scoffed. I was naive.

About 6 months after that I had the aha moment where I understood that updating old content, especially content with decent rankings but not number one rankings in Google could grow traffic considerably with little effort.

After all, if Google ranks an article in position 9, that means it’s not useless. Google kind of likes it which means it’s worthwhile to put more spit and polish into it to nudge it to the top.

In other words, updating content can be a very low cost, little time method to yield big traffic growth.

I also believe the stronger and better your content is overall, the better your site will do overall.

How do you choose what you’ll be writing about for your blogs?

My niche sites (other than Fatstacksblog.com) are broad in that they cover quite a few related topics. I don’t restrict myself to just “basketball shoes” for example. I cover footwear or even broader yet, fashion or sports.

However, there is kind of a method to the madness.

When starting a niche site I’ll publish on many topics within the niche seeking out ridiculously low competition keywords. My aim is to get some content ranking in Google.

After 3 to 9 months I check to see which topics are ranking. I then hone in on those and publish more content on those already successful topics. This method takes the guesswork out of it. Google tells me what they like the site for so why not give Google more of it.

Since I monetize with display ads, I’m not so concerned about whether content will generate affiliate sales. I just need traffic.

Over time as a site attracts more links and gains authority, it can start ranking naturally for more competitive keywords. This is a great development because this is when traffic can grow considerably.

And then sometimes I just write about what I feel like writing about. Just today I wrote an article about jogging pants because I just bought some that I really like.

I also wrote an article on Fat Stacks today on whether incorporating a blogging business is worth doing and if so, when to do it. This topic arose as a result of my accountant calling me back about some questions I had.

When I dream up my own topics I always run them through Ahrefs to determine the best wording to match as closely as possible a decent keyword.

How do you choose when to monetize with affiliates vs display advertising?

If an article could effectively sell something with affiliate links, I’ll plug them in. However, it has to stand a reasonable chance of actually generating affiliate links. I don’t pepper in affiliate links in everything.

Usually, I restrict affiliate links to the obvious articles such as reviews and comparisons.

When starting a new site, how long until the blog makes money?

It takes a while to start making money. If you aggressively build links you could probably make money inside 6 months. If not, it’ll take longer… 12 months to see any decent revenue at all. It’s a long process.

Are you making money from other channels Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube?

I generate about 200,000 monthly visitors from Pinterest and a tad more than that from Facebook. That’s about it.  

If someone was starting from scratch today, what would you have them focus on to generate traffic to their blog?

Choose a niche that interests you that also has some commercial viability to it as in there are products being sold. Once chosen, focus on very low competition keywords and start ranking some articles. You won’t get much traffic but the thing is traffic gets traffic. With traffic comes links. With links come more traffic.  

So, focus on finding easy-to-rank keywords. There are billions of them.

How long does it realistically take for someone to become a full-time blogger?

This is impossible to answer.

If you’re single with a part-time job and need almost nothing to live on, you could conceivably be a full time online in 12 months with a big effort.

If you have a family and a demanding job you probably have very little time to devote to this so it’ll take quite a bit longer.

It also depends on how well you choose keywords, whether you take on more risk and build links, etc.  

There are many variables involved. However, I know folks who managed to get to $5,000 per month inside 18 to 24 months.

Do you have a strategy for managing your multiple websites? Do you find it better to focus on one or build multiple?

At this stage, I find it’s best to focus on a few sites.

I believe there’s merit in sticking with one site. I could easily devote my days to my biggest niche site. However, I really like the idea of being slightly diversified with another site or two performing well. None of us are immune to Google updates so I’d like to be in a position where I have more than one site pumping out a healthy revenue.

Do you ever get discouraged in blogging, and if so, what do you think or do to motivate yourself to continue?

I sure do.

Everything I do today won’t yield any results for a long time so sometimes it seems pointless. However, and I tell myself this often, consistency is critical. I can’t move the needle with one day of work but if I publish one to three articles every day for a year, that’s significant.

It’s amazing how fast a year goes by. You could sit and read about how to blog, or you could bang out one to three articles per day. I strongly encourage you to just write and publish. By the end of year one you could easily have 250 to 750 articles published. That could be a decent amount of traffic and revenue.

Whenever I procrastinate or am not sure what to do, I write an article. It’s my default activity because if I do nothing but publish one article per day, it’s a good day. If I spend the day looking at stats and reading about blogging, that’s not going to do me any good.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what someone may learn in your course bundle? 

My course, which is now a massive bundle of courses has grown like crazy over 18 months. It started with my course on how I find low competition keywords and grew from that to what it is now which is an A to Z program for growing fun niche sites on topics you love and earning good revenue from them with display ads.

You don’t have to chain yourself to writing product reviews. There’s a wide world of topics to cover that are fun to write about. Thanks to the mighty display ad, you can make money from any topic.

In addition to long tail keyword research, the course includes a huge module on writing, outlining and ordering content. I also cover everything I do for on-site SEO. I’m not an SEO tech but there are some things I’ve figured out over the years that’s made a big difference.

I also teach how to get decent traffic from Pinterest based on my getting more than 200,000 monthly visitors from Pinterest.

Finally, the course offers a unique approach to link building. I’m not anti-link building.

Instead, I’m all about publishing content that attracts links naturally. To date I’ve attracted links from over 10,000 referring domains. I did not do outreach or guest posts or anything. I just focused on publishing great content.

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FatStacks Course Bundle $200 OFF This Week Only

Includes All Courses!

  • Pinterest Magnate: Learn precisely how Jon is driving massive (300,000 views +) with Pinterest each month!
  • Long Tail Deep Dive: How Jon makes a living blogging with long-tail keywords
  • Content Site Autopilot: A multi-module training program to show you how to create systems and processes for putting your content creation on autopilot.
  • Natural Link Building Formula: Learn how to attract links naturally with your blog post.
  • Display Ads Deep Dive: Your ultimate guide to monetizing niche sites and blogs with passive income display ads (i.e. AdSense and other ad networks).
  • On-Site SEO Deep Dive: Learn everything Jon does for on-site SEO (structure, schema, etc.) for ranking content. His search traffic isn’t an accident. It’s the result of setting up sites’ on-site SEO properly and publishing lots of killer content.
  • Niche Exponential: The ultimate guide to building specialty blogs such as recurring commission niche sites and others.

GET THE COURSES

What makes your courses different from other how to make a living blogging courses?

I’ve carved my own way in this business and my course explains in minute detail exactly what I do. For example, I don’t build links. I attract them. I don’t try to rank for big keywords. I look for those obscure gems other sites missed or won’t target.  

Most of my growth is a result of trying different things and then focusing on what works.  

You recently sold a few sites on Motion Invest. Why did you decide to sell? What was your experience with Motion Invest?

There were a number of reasons. Here they are:

  • Distracting: I find it distracting to effectively grow 12+ sites. These days sites need a lot of TLC, especially when it comes to content. I’m still at the helm of these sites issuing instructions, tracking results, etc. While this work doesn’t take up tons of time for one site, it adds up with many sites.
  • Sites end up better quality when I care and I only care when I’m involved: I’m at the stage in my content publishing business where I’m still involved. Here’s a weird psychological phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years. When I 100% delegate a site or let it sit untouched, I stop caring. As soon as I roll up my sleeves and get involved I start caring and want it to succeed. This caring and motivation to make it succeed makes all the difference in the world. It makes this work more fun. It’s like an artist enjoying the painting process. I enjoy digging into niche sites and making them great. But I can only do this with so many sites.
  • Interest: I’m now down to focusing on 4 sites. Fat Stacks is one of them. It’s a diverse set of sites. Two are general info sites monetized with ads (mostly). One is a pure product site (smartwatches and wearables). And then there’s fatstacks. These niche sites are my absolute favorite topics.
  • Costs: It used to be most software could be applied to unlimited sites. These days, with better software available, you have to pay for each site or on a per use basis. 2 examples include Nitropack and MarketMuse, both of which I’m using. They charge for each site. Costs go up instead of being able to dilute costs across as many sites as you want.
  • Fat Stacks: I have a lot of plans for the course bundle over this next year. I’ve received plenty of suggestions for new modules and details to fill in existing modules. I want to add it all plus more. I also want to add more video tutorials. This stuff takes time. Time permitting, I’ll do more YouTube vids and podcasts as well.
  • Investment: I have an investment opportunity independent of niche sites. I’m keen to pull the trigger in the new year. The proceeds will fund that.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to a beginner blogger who wants to earn a living blogging?

You have to enjoy the process. If you don’t there’s an easier way to make a living. But if you do like it, it’s a terrific lifestyle business.

What’s next in your professional blogger career?

I’ll stick to what I’m doing which is growing a few niche sites. They aren’t nearly as big as they could be so I’ll just keep hammering away.

As with every conversation I have with Jon, he truly knows what it takes to be a successful blogger, and the proof is in his monthly income reports. 

If you want to learn how to make a living blogging, Jon is a great resource, and I highly recommend his courses. Read more about how you can get Niche Pursuits Fat Stacks deal here

<imgsrc=”https: www.nichepursuits.com=”” wp-content=”” uploads=”” 2020=”” 12=”” copy-of-fatstacks-280×255.png”=””></imgsrc=”https:>

FatStacks Course Bundle $200 OFF This Week Only

Includes All Courses!

  • Pinterest Magnate: Learn precisely how Jon is driving massive (300,000 views +) with Pinterest each month!
  • Long Tail Deep Dive: How Jon makes a living blogging with long-tail keywords
  • Content Site Autopilot: A multi-module training program to show you how to create systems and processes for putting your content creation on autopilot.
  • Natural Link Building Formula: Learn how to attract links naturally with your blog post.
  • Display Ads Deep Dive: Your ultimate guide to monetizing niche sites and blogs with passive income display ads (i.e. AdSense and other ad networks).
  • On-Site SEO Deep Dive: Learn everything Jon does for on-site SEO (structure, schema, etc.) for ranking content. His search traffic isn’t an accident. It’s the result of setting up sites’ on-site SEO properly and publishing lots of killer content.
  • Niche Exponential: The ultimate guide to building specialty blogs such as recurring commission niche sites and others.

GET THE COURSES

The Pros and Cons of Blog Comments [+ Does It Matter for SEO?]

The Pros and Cons of Blog Comments [+ Does It Matter for SEO?]

As any blog owner will tell you, “Should I enable comments on my blog?” is one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself as your content starts to grow.

There are plenty of benefits to enabling comments on your blog, including an opportunity to engage with your readers, grow a stronger community, and learn what your readers think about each piece of content you publish.

But there are also plenty of drawbacks — there’s a reason many major marketing blogs including Search Engine Land, SEMrush, and Buffer don’t allow comments (and, for the record, at HubSpot we don’t either).

If you’re wondering whether comments make sense for your own blog, keep reading. We’ll explore the pros and cons of blog comments, and whether they truly deliver enough SEO advantages to make them worthwhile.→ Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

Blog Comments and SEO

At HubSpot, we’ve run tests to determine whether blog comments actually lead to an increase in traffic or conversions.

In fact, a colleague of mine analyzed over 100,000 blog posts and came to the conclusion: “There is no correlation between the number of comments on a post and the number of views that post got … There’s also no correlation between comments and the number of links that post got.”

And, as HubSpot’s SEO Head of Content Aja Frost told me: “Many blogs develop thriving communities through their comment sections, such as Cup of Jo, Ask a Manager, the New York Times, etc.”

Frost adds, “Having a thriving community can be good for SEO, because it increases your direct traffic (which has a knock-on effect on organic), market awareness, etc. But only if your commenters are truly engaged.”

Frost says, “If you can build a robust community, organic traffic may follow, but I wouldn’t turn on a comment section for SEO’s sake.”

Additionally, it’s also important to note — while it may have been true a few years ago, it’s no longer true that backlinking to your website in another blog’s comment section will increase your website’s search ranking.

Ultimately, Google caught onto the black hat technique where people were stuffing blog comments sections with irrelevant links for the SEO benefit, and Google now gives much lower priority to user-generated comments on websites.

All of which is to say — leaving a comment on another blog post linking back to your website is ultimately not worth the effort. There are plenty of more legitimate, powerful opportunities to increase your SEO that I’d recommend instead.

Next, let’s dive into a few examples of businesses that do have blog comments enabled, and the potential benefits of including a comments section on your own blog beyond SEO.

Blog Comment Examples

1. Backlinko

Brian Dean’s blog, Backlinko, is a popular and trusted source for SEO tips and expert advice. Trusted by major brands including Disney, Amazon, and IBM, Backlinko provides actionable content on a range of SEO-related topics.

Dean’s blog also enables comments — and his readers love to engage. Take a look at the comments section for one of his recent posts, “Landing Pages: The Definitive Guide”:

backlinko comment section of blog

Image Source

It’s clear that Dean cares about the comments his readers leave — in fact, he typically responds to most of them. Best of all, the comments often include actionable, tactical tips that readers can use to further their knowledge on the subject.

In a world where social proof matters, Dean has proven there is a responsible way to use blog comments to increase a blog’s value and effectiveness.

2. Cup of Jo

The popular women’s lifestyle site — which covers topics ranging from food and style to travel and parenting — has an incredibly active community of readers, and I’ll be honest … the comments section is almost as exciting to me as the blog’s content itself.

Take, for instance, the blog post on parenting Screen Time Rules. The short piece is only four paragraphs long — and yet, there are over 400 comments on the post from a range of perspectives:

cup of jo comment section of blog

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Ultimately, Cup of Jo has facilitated a strong, vibrant community of people eager to share their own opinions on the topic at-hand — so the comments section is a viable and necessary component of the blog, and in this case, adds value to the site.

3. Moz

One of the most popular digital marketing and SEO blogs around, Moz has built a community of experts eager to weigh in and provide industry insights to help digital marketers and SEO strategists.

This strong sense of community is likely why Moz has chosen to keep comments enabled on their blog:

moz comment section of blog

Image Source

Wisely, the company also includes a CTA for commenters to refer to Moz’s community etiquette guidelines before posting a comment. While this won’t prevent all spam from getting through, it helps Moz outline the do’s and don’ts of their public forum for well-intentioned commenters.

There are other plenty of other examples of publications with comments sections, including Neil Patel, Web Search Social, and even the New York Times.

Ultimately, however, the decision to enable comments on your blog largely depends on your own business goals. Comments can foster a stronger sense of community and enable readers to learn from each other.

However, even with the help of spam filter services, you still run the risk of providing a space for people to post offensive or defamatory content, off-topic remarks, or promotional content linking back to inappropriate or irrelevant links.

If you feel the benefits outweigh these risks, you’ll want to hire a community manager or create a process for thoughtfully removing content that doesn’t feel relevant to the conversation at-hand.

Should you allow comments on your blog?

It’s up to you whether the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to allowing comments on your blog.

For certain use cases and brands, comments are a necessary aspect of building a strong community and encouraging friendly discourse.

On the other hand, facilitating healthy discussions, deleting spam, and answering both on-topic and off-topic questions posted by your readers might be more effort than it’s worth.

If that’s the case, perhaps you want to explore using one of your social channels as an alternative option for encouraging engagement from readers, as Buffer does:

Image Source

For HubSpot, we decided we wanted to steer those types of conversations to a more public forum, which is why, rather than enabling comments on our blog posts, we’ll post our blog posts on our social channels with questions to facilitate effective conversations with marketers across industries.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that decision works for every brand. Brian Dean is a good example of that, as demonstrated above — the comments left on Dean’s blog posts are often just as useful as the content itself, since readers’ can share personal experiences and help other readers’ grow their businesses through shared challenges and successes.

If you’re unsure whether you should enable comments or not, you can always include a comments section for a few months and then reassessing whether the comments are productive and engaging. If not, consider how you might get creative with facilitating engagement and growing your blog audience through other methods.

Look at Me (But Don’t Look at Me)

Look at Me (But Don’t Look at Me)

ou’d like to think that the majority of career choices make some semblance of logical sense. Someone who really enjoys puzzles and is really good at identifying patterns might make a good economist or financial analyst, for example. A person who has always been really good with their hands and enjoys making things might lean toward a career in carpentry or metalwork.

And then you’ve got those of us who have decided we want to make our living on the Internet, putting our names and faces and content out there for public scrutiny. Surely, people who are drawn to this line of work revel in the attention, so they must all be extroverts, right? Well… maybe not.

An Introvert’s Guide to Blogging

Let’s all be perfectly honest with ourselves here. I own the domain to my own name partly out of vanity. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if the same were true for John and any number of other bloggers I know who also own the domains to their own names. While it also has to do with owning your own personal brand, on some level, we all want to “make it” as bloggers and that means having name recognition.

Put another way, on some level, we want to be “Internet famous.” Indeed, that’s a big part of the crux behind influencer marketing, even if you decide to go by some branded moniker rather than your real name. After all, celebrity names like “Eminem” or “Awkwafina” work in much the same way. The assumption, then, is that bloggers should be outgoing and extroverted, right?

Except, at least in my experience, the exact opposite is true. The overwhelming majority of bloggers that I know tend to be much more introverted overall. When you stop to think about it, this actually makes a lot more sense. The more extroverted types seek out more face-to-face human interaction, because they like to be around other people.

Bloggers, on the other hand, spend much more of their time in isolation. We work out of our home offices. We might go for whole stretches of time without talking to another person at all. Instead, we prefer to put our thoughts into written words and photos, and — on some level — “hide” behind our keyboards.

A good friend of mine also happens to be a very successful and well-known local blogger. She’s great at what she does. When we were at a recent media event, though, she came over to tell me how someone else there recognized her. She was uncomfortable and didn’t know how to react. It was a moment of anxiety.

You would think that being a “successful blogger,” you’d enjoy being recognized… but you’ll find that “real” celebrities can oftentimes experience the same kind of thing. This is particularly true with “artist” types who may spend more time in the studio, working alone or in a small team. Blogging is much the same.

The Paradox of Vlogging

Where this kind of phenomenon can become a real head-scratcher is when it comes to vlogging. I talked about this with some of my fellow blogging friends, and many of them have asked me how I can vlog in public. Don’t I feel awkward and embarrassed when I do it? Yes. I do. I really feel it.

It’s strange, because when I’m vlogging in public, I can hesitate to draw attention to myself. I want to blend into the environment; I don’t want anyone to notice me for what I’m doing, because it can feel really awkward and out of place. But, that’s because I’m an introvert who doesn’t want attention drawn to himself… except I totally want all the attention I can get on YouTube and social media. I want those subs and views and comments.

Now, if you’ve ever met John Chow in person at a Dot Com Lunch or other similar event, you’ll know that he is not shy at all about vlogging in public. He doesn’t hesitate to put a camera in front of a stranger’s face or to whip out the Switchpod. That’s exactly what he did when we met for lunch some time back. At the time, I thought it was rather audacious of him. But for John, it was just another opportunity to create some content.

Where You Fit In?

Life is full of paradoxes that might not make a lot of intuitive sense. Sometimes, you have to take a break if you want to be more productive. Or, you might have to figure out how to work less if you want to earn more. And, even though the business of blogging, vlogging and influencer marketing might be all about getting those views and clicks and attracting attention to yourself, it’s okay if your natural inclination is to slink away.

It just means you’ll need to step outside your comfort zone every now and then, and recognize the bigger picture at play. Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe!