Last time Mark was on the podcast, he and I actually pre-recorded questions and answers. This time around, I wanted to have him on a “live” interview to get a bit more of the dialogue going.
In this episode, we discuss a little bit about of the progress of his SEO agency since it was launched nearly 1 year ago. They’ve grown rapidly.
In addition, I wanted to discuss what’s going on with my Skyscraper Link building campaign that I ordered from their about 5 weeks ago for OwnTheYard.com. I needed some links and so I hired them for the job.
We dive into what’s going on behind the scenes as they do outreach and how long I should expect to wait before I see significant results.
Listen in to hear all the details. Or you can watch the entire video interview below:
Spencer: [00:00:00] Hey, Mark. Welcome to the niche pursuits podcast.
Mark Mars: [00:00:07] Hi, Spencer. Thanks for having me.
Spencer: [00:00:09] Yup. It’s a great to have you, I guess, back on, you know, before, when you were on, we did sort of a prerecorded side of the interview. so this is really the first time we’re recording together on the, at the same time. So, it’s going to be great.
Being able to chat with you here today.
Mark Mars: [00:00:25] Excellent.
Spencer: [00:00:26] So, you know, you, you shared last time you were on you, you shared a little bit about how you have grown niche website builders, just to catch people up. If they didn’t hear the last podcast interview, let people know what niche website.builders is.
And when you guys started that.
Mark Mars: [00:00:46] Yeah. So, literate site builders, we started with, co-founder of mine, or co co founder, Adam Smith. we started out, around December last year. So about 11 months ago now, we, we we’d only actually met like three months prior, so we’ve been, we’ve only known each other for a year, for a year.
And. Because of lockdown and everything and know things are dying. but he met three times. We were about two and a half hours drive away, but we weren’t, he met three times. I mean, we’re on zoom every day and on, on chat every day. So he put up, we know each other, but, yeah, so we were, we were running our own portfolios of sites.
And over time. And I heard, Adam on the flipping website last podcast with Richard Petty. it was back then. And, but as van, it was a really interesting interview. So I got in touch with them and, we talked, talked about affiliate sites and Verde sites and, you know, We decided to kind of meet up.
So about a week later, I went down to Wales, which is where he’s based. with them, we started chatting. We, we spoke about our frustrations about the hiring writers and running through things through artwork and like the, the challenges that come with building sites and kind of almost having to have a mini team if you want to outsource stuff.
and. And, and we weren’t happy with, we, we tried some of the agency services as well, and we just weren’t happy with the quality that we got back. We didn’t, we didn’t really get the kind of service we wanted. and we were also looking for. Yeah, we started to sort of plan what, you know, what would our ideal agency look like?
And now that would be something that would give us the quality that we would want and expect, but also provide end to end services. So, you know, something that’s like we could go to and that it gives us the keyword research. They’ll do the right thing that helped us with the niche, niche selection. If we wanted to, we would.
That would upload it. They would put it into templates that would work well and are proven to convert and, and in certainly affiliate links. So what we’d have to do is like press publish and that’s, we figured it’d be awesome to have, and, you know, to a high standard as well. But, you know, so we. Now we’ve been building affiliate sites for a while.
So we kind of got some of our methods and kind of proven, proven methods that we know that if we push on with the way that we work, then you know, we’re going to get results. And so. Partially. It was kind of a selfish things. Like let’s build this team anyway for us, for our portfolio and we can train them up.
And, you know, rather than the heck that people have artwork who are one week of writing a book the next week they’re editing, someone’s copy. Then they’re writing affiliate content. You know, we can train them up to be proper affiliate writers. And, and so we did that and then we kinda wanted to offer out to some people and, Yeah, it seems like that was a, that was a little bit of a gap because like, just the, just the way that we positioned the service and the way that it was kind of end to end was kind of a little bit unique.
And, it seemed like a lot of people were off for that kind of thing. So, Yeah, that’s kind of how it started. I mean, for a month before, like, Oh, sorry. For a year before we actually started niche website builders, I had a, the site that is niche website they’ll build us. And that was, that was a block which was too, To document and blog about a site that I was creating and how to monetize sites.
I’ve been doing SEO for PR for a lot of years. but affiliate marketing less. So, so I kind of wanted to document that journey. It was, it was kind of a similar time to own the odd actually spent, I missed that, like by two or three months, starting at the same time, I started a few months later and kind of got it and documented it along the way.
So that, that became popular. We got kind of a following. Around the case study. And then we kind of, when we came to, so when we came to launch the services services, we already had a following there for that. We had been following the, the, the, the, the case study, and then we’re interested in the case study was quite successful.
So they’re interested in kind of. Yeah, purchasing services from the site people.
Spencer: [00:04:36] Right. So that makes it a lot easier to launch the service. You’ve already got kind of a following. And I know you had a Facebook group that was very active, that you were building that following and launched it, to, to great success.
We talked about that a little bit in the LA last podcast, but it’s now been almost a full year, right? Since you launched the service and, maybe just give us an idea. Is it going well? whatever sort of success, metrics you’re willing to share with us
Mark Mars: [00:05:03] here. Yes, I was getting really well. I mean, we, you know, we’ve had crazy amount of growth in terms of customers and we’ve been hiring, you know, almost every week for the entire year.
and, and that’s been really good. That’s going, going really well. We kinda kind of kept. You know, we kind of over the course of the year, we’ve kind of increased the services that we are offering. So we started out with content about a month later, we started doing Dunphy sites as well, with content on them around April of this year, we launched our shotgun skyscraper link building service, which also has been pretty popular.
You know, there’s not many, many agencies offering that kind of service. Mostly it’s kind of guest posts. You shared it’s kind of service and. As of today, we also launched, launched our guest posting Nisha at service, which kind of serves a little bit of a different purpose to, to shotgun skyscraper. So, yeah, it’s been a bit, it’s been a busy year, but we’ve got us a plans for 20, 21 as well and, and Beyonce.
Spencer: [00:06:01] Good. So, you’ve been able to build a successful agency growing, crazy that it’s, Less than 12 months, the, the year goes by quick, but, you guys have, have done well. And of course my audiences resonated with, what you guys offer because most of my audience is building niche, affiliate websites.
And so people will kind of resonate with a lot of the services that you offer and the type of link building that you do. so let’s talk a little bit about a couple of your services actually, before we talk specifically about the services, I’m actually curious, what is the most popular service like?
Are you finding that most of your orders are for content packages or is it shotgun skyscraper kind of what’s popular.
Mark Mars: [00:06:46] Yeah. So there’s kind of a, I’d say this is a split. So we have, we, we order, we have our services, we provide them on subscription. So you pay for content on subscription or you pay for links on the subscription.
And that’s kinda mostly how it works. and right now it’s about 50, 50. Interesting, which is, which is surprising. Cause we get the content will be a lot more. So there’s contact is still a bigger part of our business because there’s a lot, we’ve got a lot of one-off orders, so there’s the subscriptions and there’s one, the one off orders and the one-off orders.
Now we work with guys that, portfolio owners and they’ve got a number of sites and they can’t manage them all themselves. So they, they want us to do that. So they may order 200,000 words and just say, get it on the site as soon as possible, we’ll get it indexed. And, you know, cause they’re looking to flip the site or just grow it rapid rapidly.
Right. So, you know, in terms of subscriptions and ongoing recipient subscriptions, the, the revenues are pretty even between that and links, but we probably get a double, a. The amount of content. Again, it’s like a subscription supporting makeup, a thought about content orders. The rest is one-offs through either peer investors who don’t, wouldn’t even know how to set up a WordPress site and just know that good investment and want us to help with that.
or that I say the portfolio and portfolio owners. We’ve got investment to, to put into, to science.
Spencer: [00:08:06] Yeah. So, I’ve shared actually here on the podcast a little bit that I did place an order with you guys for own the yard, my niche site project for site. I went ahead and ordered a shotgun skyscraper, link building package.
And, it’s been, I don’t know, a little over a month ago, month and a half ago, something like that, that I placed the order. And so, maybe be interesting to kind of talk through that process a little bit. You know, like, how that’s worked out for me, you know, I went ahead and I, I ordered that.
And as far as the process, I mean, pretty simple, I got an email from your team. they just needed a few things. They got access to Google analytics and, you know, got familiar with my sites so they could figure out what is a good piece of content that they could publish and write for. That would be a good skyscraper piece of content.
and they’ve done that. They have now published that on my site. And it’s a super in depth article. and so I guess people familiar with my site, on the yard that article, that niche website publishers published, what, niche website builders published, was a gardening a to Z article. so sort of gardening a to Z super in depth, how to get started doing that.
And, it’s great content. So. I don’t know if there’s a question there other than, you know, it’s, it’s gone well, so far to this point, and now I’m sort of, I’m waiting to see the links come in. All right. Yeah. And so maybe you can tell me what’s going on behind the scenes. I guess after I think most people probably understand what happens to publish the content, but what happens now, right?
Like what’s going on behind the scenes to get a bunch of links to that article.
Mark Mars: [00:09:47] Yeah. So, so I think it’s, I think we’ve been doing outreach for a week today. I kind of checked before the call. So you’re about five weeks in, so month, one of the, about processes to just get you set up. So yeah. I create the content.
So there’s a number of things that we’re involved in that we need to, we need to decide on what patient content we’re going to create. So to do that, we go and look at what’s already popular within your niche, cause kind of taking some of the guesswork away and kind of hope, you know, hoping that you’ll get links by looking and finding what’s already popular on the, on the understanding that if we create a similar piece of content that we, we can expect to get something to say.
so we do that research. we do, we then kind of write that, write the copy as well. Oh, sorry. Write the content as well. We generally create some bespoke artwork to go with that copy as we did with yours, spent some because. You know, if we’re writing a piece of content, you know, if there are other pieces of content, are there similar out there and we’re reaching out to the same people together, links, you know, we want it to be a little bit different.
We don’t want it to be the same stock photography that every other articles got on the topic. So we want to make it stand out a little bit more. so. Yeah, so it needs to be, to be in depth. And also we do things like we, we set you up a fresh domain because, you know, with any kind of outreach, there’s a risk of spam getting caught by spam filters.
so we don’t want to jeopardize your own site for, For that, if you ever wanted an email address on your own, on the heart, the main or whoever you sold it to in the future did. So we set up a Google account, we set up a G suite account and a fresh domain so that we can kind of do outreach. And generally we use a number of different, a number of sinus on the outreach through quite often we’ll use multiple domains and multiple.
Just in case one gets caught by spam filters. We can still keep going, but also it takes a while to warm up the outreach because with, on a fresh domain, you can’t start sending 300 emails a day because again, the spam filters will pick that up. You need to wrap up slowly. So we’ll send 20 emails a day for the first week and then 40 a day for the second week and so on.
So, We were doing that for clients to start with, but it just takes a long time to get, you know, for the wheels to get to. And even though kinda, we, we, we, we advised that we just figured actually we have, if we have multiple email accounts, we can just make it a little bit faster. So that’s kind of my once a year, a month to now, which is kind of the outreach.
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So we’re ramping up that sending. So we’d expect links to coming slowly based kind of month, three onwards you’d expect the snowball and that sort of compound effect where not only are we sending more emails. Come the second month of outreach, all of those conversations we started having in the first month or are starting to come to fruition as well.
And there, I know all the links kind of start rolling again so far yet. I, we, we’ve got, we’ve got one link and we told you this yet. We’ve got one link so far. So there we
Spencer: [00:12:31] go.
Mark Mars: [00:12:32] Awesome. Let me just check. I think they are 64. Okay. That’s true. Yeah, they are 64. That’s how many negotiating? Yeah, it’s a good, yeah, it’s a good, it’s a good sign.
I’m in negotiating three more at the moment, so, and they are two dr. 20 nines and the are 18, so they’re all, garden gardening yard based sites. So you’ve got topical relevance there as well. so yeah, so.
Spencer: [00:13:00] So, yeah, follow up on that. So who’s, obviously you got a huge team, right? that that’s sort of handling all these emails, and.
Maybe more, just an observation. It’s even though it’s automated emails, you’ve got to have a live person on the other end when they respond and say, maybe we’re interested. Right. You’re kind of talking about the negotiation, what what’s sort of the typical responses that you get there. I mean, do you get very many like that are just like sure.
I’ll add the link.
Mark Mars: [00:13:30] Yeah. Yeah. Like it really depends on the niche. Right. So Godin’s a good one. you know, any kind of home stuff’s generally quite good for free links. we found, you know, we’ve got much more experience now over, I wrote a lot of different niches, about what we can expect to get links for Fred, not so.
That’s been a challenge for us because, you know, we’ve, we’ve kinda, you know, we have to kind of give an expectation on the website about what people can expect for the spring service, but it really varies quite greatly. And even since we launched the service and in the last couple of years, Even in the home niches, like people just more savvy, they know Link’s got value, it’s worth something and we’ll want you to pay for it.
So getting those free links are harder. So when I was first doing it two years ago, I happily say that 70 or 80%. I’ve linked in the home niche for free, just because they like the content enough. It depends what way you set your threshold of what you’re willing to pay. So I had a low threshold or was willing to pay for a link.
Therefore, a large percentage ended up being free because I didn’t pay for any over a certain amount, like $25 or something. So, so now we, you, in some nations, we still got plenty, but you know, it things like the digital marketing niche, like everyone wants you to pay for it. Right. And a decent. At least a decent value, a decent amount of money for the link as well.
So, Yeah. It really depends on niche. It really does.
Spencer: [00:14:52] Yeah. And so, that’s sort of the new service that you referenced as well. Right? You’re doing niche, niche edits. how does, how does that differ, I guess from the shotgun skyscraper? I mean, you’re, you’re doing outreach for both, but I guess the niche edits is you don’t have that skyscraper content.
You’re really just saying, Hey, it looks like there might be an opportunity to link towards, and then it goes from there, right?
Mark Mars: [00:15:16] Yeah, absolutely. So it’s very similar. We’re still doing it. We’re still doing manual outreach to find these opportunities, but yeah, we’re not, we’re not trying, we’re not, we’re not doing that first step, I guess, of where we’re trying to just get the free link back to the article.
so there’s a number of benefits there because we, with shotgun, you can get a lot of links. Ask scale, which works out a pretty good cost, average cost per link. but you’ve kind of gotten more mix of whoever responds and kind of people that are interested. So you might have different levels of relevance.
So you might have a site-level relevance, which is the best you might have article level relevance, or maybe only sentence level relevance, but we’re trying to get links of volume here. So increase the domain authority or domain writing, and. And that’s kind of the goal of the shotgun service, whereas we can be very much more, very, very much more targeted with the guest posts and initiate it.
So we can say, look, we want the site to be site. They will relevance. We want it to, you meet all of these criteria in terms of metrics. and, and we want to be able to point it to our money page. you know, with the shotgun skyscraper, we’re trying to get them to point it to our skyscraper article.
And then we pass any link juice. Through to the money pages using internal linking isn’t he using link whisper. Of course, of course. And, and then, and, but, you know, with, with guest posts and he shared it with Lincoln directly to the money pages, which is, which is better, you know, you’re getting all of that link juice, all in one go, But, yeah.
So I guess that’s the difference between the two services,
Spencer: [00:16:50] right? Yeah. That makes sense. So, so what should I expect going forward? You know, things are going to start to snowball a little bit here you say in month, two and three of, of link building. I guess not so much, what should I expect, but maybe what, what have you seen with some previous clients, you know, you’ve now been doing this almost 12 months.
Do you have any sort of clients, for example, that have been, you know, doing the skyscraper link building campaign for a number of months that have seen pretty big results?
Mark Mars: [00:17:17] Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, so, I think probably one of the best examples, we’ve got right now is, the, we had a client who. He started with us in January, we did a niche site for them.
We did a hundred thousand words of content on that site, straight away, and then come April when we launched the shotgun service. So that’s, I think launched in, we built in January, launched in February, the shotgun service was available in, in April. He did a shotgun campaign with us, and that was over, he went for the top package, which I ballistic package.
So that ended up being around 120 links or so that we, we, that we built for him over the course of a four month period. so, and then the site was, you know, showing, showing good progress, but by the end of the summer, it was of 10,000 sessions a month. It wasn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t an expired the main, but, or an aged domain and it was very low.
It was like a dr. Two or something with, with, yeah, it had like 19 referring domains.
Spencer: [00:18:20] So pretty interesting. Yeah.
Mark Mars: [00:18:22] Yeah. So obviously it’s, it’s, it’s over, it’s over it. I can’t remember it exactly what, what the DOR is now, but it’s much higher than that in mid, mid, mid twenties, I think. it’s now. It’s going from strength to strength steel.
So he’s, he then ordered a content subscription with us in kind of July or August time of 30,000 bloods a month. So overall, the site’s probably got like, would you like, like 160, 180,000, something like that? Maybe more, maybe nearly 200,000 words now. Wow. But, yesterday you kind of hit a new high of 700 visitors in a day.
so I would. Over 20,000 visitors now, bef a couple of months ago, I co-op with them and he was, he was getting 10,000 sessions at that time. And he was doing about 350 to $400 on Amazon associates. And then obviously we can get Zoe and O on, on there at that point as well, which would add another two or $300.
So it was looking at $500 or so he was easily kind of getting a return on investment if he. Thinking about the asset value that he’s got now. And now he’s up to 21,000. He’s probably doubled, doubled that he’s maybe near a thousand dollars a month, since January. So
Spencer: [00:19:34] yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. I mean, I love the sort of hands-off approach.
I mean, if I’ll be honest, I mean, you guys kind of nailed it with the terms of, Product market fit. You know, guys like me, I’ve got a few niche sites, plus I’m trying to run a podcast here. Right. You know, I got lots going on. so it’s great to be able to have somebody step in and either do content or links, like what you guys are doing for me.
so it really sort of fits really well with a very specific target audience. so I love what you guys are doing there. Any, anything else that, you just kind of want to share with people that, is working well in terms of SEO, it doesn’t necessarily have to be specifically what you guys are offering there, but I know you guys kind of do offer a whole range of things there, but just kind of anything that, you’ve seen kind of work well for people, either starting out building sites or just something to take an existing site and grow it.
Mark Mars: [00:20:31] And I just have to go back to, the expired, the mains, w w we’re seeing a really, you know, it’s kinda, it’s kind of, I’m not, I’m not really working with expired domains much before, so it’s kind of, kind of reasonably new for me, in the law, you know, in the last sort of six months or so, but, you know, we’ve seen clients doing it and having great success.
We started doing our own portfolios and seeing like, Yeah, no very, very quick growth. we’re about to, you know, w we’re about to kind of take it to the next level. We’re about a little Che, Now the case study, we’ve bought an expired domain, a really powerful expire domain, a car it’s like, yeah, DL 60, I think, in a sports niche and a million words on it, as soon as we can and hopefully in the next three or four months, and we’re just going to see what happens, you know, but yeah, we’ve never put content on our site that fast.
So it’d be interesting to see how it happens, but it will be quite a powerful bought the mine, but we’ve been doing. We’ve been doing this for a number of people and we see the way that we’re thinking about it. Now, I haven’t done it for a lot of people I’m for ourselves is that we’re trying to get, you know, if you’ve got the budget, we’re trying to get several horses kind of into the race because, you just never quite know as with any site, whether it’s an unexpired domain or not, which one’s going to take off and which one isn’t.
So, you know, Adam has been starting, you know, one or two sites a month for a number of months now, despite the mains and the goal, and the goal here is to. It’s the pick, the winning the winning horse. Right? So the way that we look at it at the moment, this is that if we get 10, 10 X by, at the main, standard sites on, on, on 10 X by the mains, the a hundred thousand words.
We expect about four of them to kind of break even. so we kind of get our money back and that’s kind of the worst case scenario. We’re expecting four to maybe do an extra couple of hundred dollars a month. So giving us a return of return on investment and I’m expecting to see two that just clearly other winners.
And then we’re looking to kind of then sell those ones that have broken even, or keep some of the other ones for cashflow. And then, and then just reinvest everything into those ones that are the winners. So I think. You know, most likely if you’re doing it right, like most sites in the end, if you keep pushing, of course there’s exceptions, but if you push for long enough, you can’t, you’re probably going to see results.
But you know why though the way that we’re looking at the moment, it’s like, why, why calf keep pushing together results on a site that’s kind of reluctant to do. So when you can put a few horses into the race, pick the winners and then just reinvest everything into that. So, Although we, we really believe in the expired domains.
You know, we can’t guarantee it every single time. And that’s, that’s the way that we’re personally doing it ourselves. but, you know, like I say, you push for long enough. and, and, and the expire to man gives you a good start, a good start compared to refresh domain. It you’re going to get there quicker anyway.
Spencer: [00:23:17] Yeah, it’s an interesting strategy. And I think a lot of people probably can relate to that. If they built a lot of sites, they know that certain sites do take off and others just take a little bit longer. that’s why it’s been. Really difficult to do sort of a public case study like I’ve done is because I say I’m building this domain, you know, this one site and I kind of put all my chips in and, you kind of hope that it does well, unfortunately on the art has done well, right.
It’s making, you know, 2,500 to $3,000 a month. And, you know, I’m not putting much work into it at this point, other than what you guys are doing, for that’s my work is I pay you guys to do that, but, So I, I totally agree. It’s, it’s difficult to know which sites are going to take off and which ones aren’t.
and so it’s important to invest in those ones that do start to take off. so, yeah, Mark, I think, it’s, we’ve kind of covered, what you guys are doing there and how you’ve grown some of the SEO strategies that you’re implementing there. if people want to check out, Some of your services.
They can of course go through my niche pursuits link, which is just niche, pursuits.com/niche website builders. And if there’s any special deals going on at the time, it’ll be right there on that page, so that people can check out, what’s next for niche website builders. I mean, what, what’s the plan either new services or just scale much bigger.
Mark Mars: [00:24:42] Yeah. We’re not going to go too crazy on services. We don’t want to, we don’t want to become. You don’t wanna spread yourself too thin, you know, we’re, we’re good at what we do now. And we want to carry on that. w we want to keep, scaling up the services. We’ve got most likely that there probably will be others further down the line, but we’re going to do that slowly.
And it’s more about, you know, these are the core things that you need to build a site links, content and the website itself. And that’s probably what we’re going to stick to primarily going forward. But yeah. So what about, how do we get in front of more
Spencer: [00:25:12] people now? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. very good. Any parting words, any final advice or just thoughts for our niche pursuits, podcast listeners?
Mark Mars: [00:25:23] no, I think, if, if, if in the, even if in the description you can put, like, we’ve got a white, a white list for the expired domain. We do we offer an expired on my sourcing service so we can help people. We do some due diligence to help people find the right domains. so, if we can put something in the description about that, like, which is, which is just a waiting list at this time, or, or mailing list, so you can get on the list and that’s what more about that?
So that’s the, that’s the only thing, but other than that, yeah, just, just be patient, I think, with, as anything with the affiliate sites, you know, Yep.
Spencer: [00:25:54] That’s right. Absolutely. Very good Mark. Thanks for coming on and chatting for a little bit, giving us an update on not only the business, but you know, some of the strategies you guys are doing and providing for your clients.
So I appreciate it.
Mark Mars: [00:26:07] Thanks