Wouldn't you like to make $40 000 per month passively after being in business for just one year? In this article, we are bringing you an interview with Mark Mars, the co-founder of the Niche Website Builders team, who have been absolutely changing people's lives with their content creation and backlink-building services. They've been helping people scale their online businesses and quit their jobs by creating content websites, and it's been awesome to see.
In this interview held by Jared from the Buying Online Businesses Podcast, Mark Mars talks about how his client went from making no money online to building a $1.6 million business within 12 months, which makes him $40 000 per month in passive income. Mark shares the steps they took to build up that asset and everything about content creation, like how many articles you should publish per month when starting out with your first content website.
He also talks about their tomb-raiding SEO strategy, which helps them with their keyword research and allows them to rank for more competitive keywords with the content they create. Also, consider backlinks.
This is an incredibly valuable interview article. If you own a content website or plan to start one, you would be crazy to miss this article. Please go ahead and read to the end; it is so jam-packed and you're going to love it.
Q: What's one of the case studies you'd like to use that we can break down to explain how to go from a couple of hundred dollars per month to tens of thousands of dollars or more?
The best kind of case study we've got right now is that of Clinton. He is a client who started working with us over a year ago, around November or December of 2021. He started from zero when we built a site for him. He bought an aged domain, and we built the site on top of that domain and scaled that up with him to the point that now it makes just under $40 000 a month. If you put a 40x multiplier on it, then it can be valued at about $1.6 million on the market.
Q: Let's break this down bit by bit. So, how did he choose that particular aged domain, and how much did it cost?
In reality, we started with 3 or 4 sites with him. He was brand new in the website investing world, which makes it even better because his best site came in his first set of investments. So right now, he has high expectations for the next project. I guess the disclaimer is that this doesn't happen every time, and although we've had more modest successes for people along the way and we've got clients who've managed to quit their job through working with us by having us build sites for them, they don't all get to $1.6 million in just a year. It just doesn't work easily like that.
So we started working on four sites with him because he was keen to get a portfolio going. This site, in particular, was taking off faster than the others, and we built all of them on aged domains. We're very fond of aged domains, and we understand that they can help the site take off and start making money because of that sandbox period. But this one clearly showed it was a winner from the start.
In a single year, I work with several sites, and a few stand out as having the potential to gain more traction than the others. So, in this case, you must focus your attention and investment on those taking off.
So this one was taking off. The client bought the domain himself at an auction, and he got it for what seemed to be a ridiculous price because I was watching this domain at auction as well. I was interested too, but I pulled out way before he did. I won't say how much he spent, but it was a lot. It was in the five-figure range.
Q: So this website was built on a premium domain, with premium content, and probably with premium links?
It's fair to say that. Still, this domain was perfect because it was connected to a famous individual and had loads of high-quality backlinks. So the site's domain authority, or domain rating, could have been higher, but it did have some excellent-quality backlinks.
However, you can still have great success with domains that cost around $1 000 to $2 000. I've got one site in my portfolio that gets 300 000 sessions a month and was built on a not-so-expensive old domain. It was a DL-12, and it cost me very little—four figures—to acquire that one. I've done no link-building and made like 300 posts, and it's 300 000 sessions per month now.
Q: I want to ask for somebody in the audience, and they're like, "All right, cool, I've already got a site, and I'm making a couple of hundred dollars." Maybe they're making $500 a month and want to double their business or get to the $40,000 a month range. Are there some steps you need to take to get there? What does it look like going from a $500/month site to a $1000/month site in terms of how much content is published? Then, at what point do we begin focusing on link-building and guest posting?
So it depends on so many different factors. We've seen sites with 50–100 posts doing a lot of sessions, and then we've seen quite a few sites with 100+ posts not doing or doing equivalent numbers. When we work with aged domains, we ignore link building for the most part because most already come with enough links to give them domain authority.
We usually go for content for quite a long period to get the SEO rankings high; after that, we start thinking about link building. Most of the time, we never get to that point where we need to invest in that link building, especially when the niche is huge and we need to put up lots of content.
But if you're starting from scratch with a site that has no domain authority and a brand new domain, then at some point you'll have to consider link building a little sooner. And the thing about links is that the first ones you get are the ones that will make the most difference because going from 0 to 5 or 0 to 10 links makes a much more significant impact than going from 250 to 260 links. It has diminishing returns.
In the picture: Mark Mars and Adam Smith, the co-founders of Niche Website Bloggers
Q: So that's a great point. Yeah, I want to come back to something normally said, which is that, when you get to a certain point with content and you want to start ranking for more competitive keywords, you need to build a bit of domain authority so you can rank for them. This is very important for people in the $100 range because they may be starting by trying to rank for two high-competition keywords and still not getting those rankings, and the reason is that they still need to have the authority to do so. So how does one determine the ratio of authority versus ranking for harder or more competitive keywords?
Yeah, so there are a couple of things worth considering. Many of the sites we start now, especially those on a new domain, are filled with informational content first. So we don't go after commercial content because that's generally a more complex space to work in. So you want to go after the informational content. We found that once you go for the informational content, you can start to build some traction and start to get some traffic. And this is when Google starts to notice your site and rank it.
Once you've done that, you can start expanding into commercial stuff and more challenges if you want to go down the affiliate route. You might not want to go into commercial content earlier on now that ad networks pay so well. You might carry on with the informational content, and increasingly, we're seeing with clients that the balance is shifting more towards the informational content side because of the ease of ranking compared to the commercial content.
That could be quite a long time, depending on the space you're in, right? But yeah, something that we use pretty heavily is some strategy for keyword research that we've had; we've given it a unique name called "tomb-raiding SEO" just for fun. The reason we call it "tomb raiding" is because the way that we do this is that we go into Ahrefs and Semrush and take a huge list, the most extensive list we can find, of all our competitors within those spaces. Then we use industry-specific metrics like domain rating, domain authority, trust flow, and page authority. We get all of those metrics, and then we add them all up for every competitor, including ourselves, and then we see where we sit in the competitive landscape.
That gives us a rough idea of our authority compared to our competitors, and we're going to all of those below us on that list; we know that all those clients and sites are included in that list. And then we check out all of the keywords and pages they're managing to rank for, with the thought being that if they're a lower authority than us and they're ranking for it, then we should be able to rank for it too.
So we basically go in and say, "Well, we'll take those 20 pages from that site, and those 25 pages from that site, and there are 30 pages from that site, and we're going to write content based on those topics as well, because if they've ranked, so should we, and that's why it's called "tomb raiding," because we're like stealing the best stuff from our competitors and using it to build a keyword plan."
So, once you've done that and you've exhausted all those competitors and found all of the best jewels from their tombs or their websites, maybe, at that point, you'll be getting some decent traffic, a good ranking, and some links naturally. This means your authority is increasing, but you should repeat the exercise until you've exhausted those options.
Then maybe you need to start thinking, "Okay, now I need something to increase that list of competitors and then start raiding more people who are a little bit higher up."
We've been using this tactic for 18 months. About 5 or 6 months ago, we started talking about it but needed a name for it. We had to explain it to people repeatedly, and there were multiple steps. So that's how we came up with the term "tomb raiding."
Q: How much material must I publish in a month? If I want to go from $500 to $1,000 per month, how many articles per month should be published in that range?
Generally, it depends on two things: your budget and your ambition. So clearly, the more content you can afford, the more you are going to rank for more keywords. With this, you are going to get more traffic and more revenue. Our customers have been running portfolios for a while, and we trust the process, so we'll start new sites and won't see any traction. Still, we'll put a couple of hundred posts on there, then work to the next one, and another couple hundred posts in there, and another couple of posts, and then wait and see what happens. I understand that people are just starting like this. They've got to see it happen and do it a little bit at a time.
When you buy a site on Niche Website Builders, the minimum is like 30 000 words, and we don't do it for less than that because you can't even call it a starter site if you've got fewer than 30 000 words. If there's an average of 2 000 words in an article you're talking about, what are those 15 articles? Below that, it's like you've got nothing. You can't even call it a starter site; it's like nothing.
You must have at least 15 to 25 posts for Google to notice your site. It's like if you've got a site with just a couple of pages, people will say that's nothing; that's just like a landing page; there's nothing that will be of interest here. And you want multiple articles on a similar topic because that builds topical authority. If you've only got five articles, you only have a little topical authority because there's not much to go on. And so we have monthly subscriptions, and the minimum monthly subscription is 10 000 words. We could do less, but, as I said, we want to be realistic with people. For example, if you don't write 2 000 words per month, you'll never get there, or it's going to be such a long time before you get there.
I suggest that you write about 125 000 words per year. And that's what you should start seeing in terms of traction and stuff from that, so that's how we think about it. It's hard for people to answer the question, "How much traffic am I going to get with 120 000 words a year?" because every niche is different. You may have hundreds of posts that get the same traffic as something with 50 posts or even fewer. So the bare minimum to get there is 120 000 words per year? If each article is 2 000 words long, that works out to 5 articles per month or nearly 60 articles per year.
Q: Why do you think that's the number that you recommend for somebody to see a result, and what sort of result could you start to see in terms of where they're at compared to where they would be in a year?
Yeah, so we do it that way, but that's how you'll see some progress: 5 articles a month. It'll be a slow process, and progress will be gradual, but you'll see it month by month. And the great thing about this whole business model is that once you start getting some income, you can reuse that to reinvest until you get to a point where it pays for itself to get bigger. And the asset gets bigger, and you never put any new money in. So now that things have kicked off, you can start to fund that content monthly with the income you're getting, and it goes down and down over time until you're paying for it. So 60 articles is a decent number of articles, and that's a good start. Depending on whether you had to leave the sandbox, it's possible that you'd be making a lot more money after a year.
Depending on the niche, you could be as low as $50 or as high as $1 000 or $1 500.And although we always try to back the winning horse, as I mentioned before, starting multiple sites doesn't mean that any other site, if you only start one, can't get there in the end. Like I always say, if you're doing the right things, you have to be persistent, and sometimes you just have to be more persistent with some sites. But generally, if you're going to write things and keep going and haven't picked some crazy niche, you will get there in the end. But if you can, why wouldn't you back the winning horse that will get you there quicker and more easily?
Q: I want to come back to building a content site now that people realize that I need to put in 10 000 words per month to see a result within a year. When do you start incorporating link-building and creating a database of relevant keywords?
Yeah, so again, it depends. If they go for an aged domain, then they might not do it, for it might only need to be done for a short time, and it depends on the authority of the domain you bought. The bigger the authority, the longer you probably have to wait before building more links to it from a brand-new domain. It depends on how easy it is to rank some articles within that niche. So the way that you would probably do it is that you would write content and rank it.
Still, with a brand new domain, you must wait for 6 to 12 months before considering whether you want to build links and see the fruits of your labor in terms of content creation and seeing that it begins to gain traction. And then you're going to go, "Okay, well, I'm ranking for some of these easier articles; can I continue to rank for some more of these articles through keyword research?" And if you're finding that you need to manage to do more to achieve that, then you probably want to build some links within the first year. As I said before, the first links are the ones that have the most impact. So you'll be able to build a few links in that first month, and those could come from any number of things, like a kind of directory, a kind of listing, a kind of brand there, or social media profiles.
Q: When we're building links, you will have to have at least a home page to send a link to, but how do you determine which page you want to send your link to? Your top page, your second page, your third page? Is it something that you identify, like, "This page we want to make sure we support with another link?" How do you work out which link you're going to go for and where you're going to point it to?
We have different link-building services that we use for different purposes. So the difference is that you're just looking to raise the overall authority of the site, so by raising the overall authority of the site, everything gets elevated, including your chances of ranking for keywords across the board across all of your articles, as long as you're doing some good internal linking, so you're passing any link juice or anything that you do have on the site. That is one kind of link-building.
The other is, like, you want to target particular pages, and we were leading there because, yeah, we're doing the other type of link building, which is that you're trying to rank specific pages. That's where you're leading and possibly the specific keywords you're trying to rank for, so how does this work? You want to do this so that you can take a look at something like Ahrefs and look at the section of the top page and say, "Okay, what pages on my site are ranking?" At the bottom of page one on Google or on the second page of Google, if I inject them with a couple of links, we'll make all the difference and push us up to the top half of the first page.
Of course, you want to think about how much traffic and volume you can expect, so you want to look at that, as well as those articles or keywords that you're close to ranking for on the bottom of page one or page two, identify those and do something to help push them to the top of the first page.
A big special thank you to Mark from Niche Website Builders, not only for sharing some absolute gold tips in this interview but for leading the way forward in content creation with his team and building great content sites.
You can see more content from him on his YouTube channel, Niche Website Builders.