December 23, 2021 0 852

Interview with Brock McGoff: Earning Over $500 000/ Year with Niche Sites

Today we are bringing you an interview with Brock McGoff, an online entrepreneur and the owner of The Modest Man, the most popular fashion website that’s dedicated to short men. He is also the owner of Full-time Blog and The Slender Wrist websites alongside the Youtube channels and social media communities behind The Modest Man.

Brock has been a fashion blogger and an affiliate marketer for over 8 years now and he generates over $500 000 per year in passive income from his blog sites. He capitalized on his problems of not being able to find the right clothes due to his height and created one of the most popular fashion sites for short guys that generates him $30 000 per month in passive income.

In this interview, he is sharing with us his background story, how he got into creating niche sites and affiliate marketing, his ideas on having strong sites with proper SEO to rank well on Google as well as other tips to help webmasters to realize success with niche sites.

How did you get started with blogging?

I was working in a corporate job after college that I didn't like. I didn't know what to do with my life. My dad was an entrepreneur, and I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. I knew I didn't work well in the nine-to-five office environment because I didn't really want a boss but again I didn't know what to do. So after three years, I quit my first job. I was about 24-years-old at this time.

I ran a recording studio for about a year and a half and tried to do music full-time because I grew up playing music. However, I didn't make any money because I didn't know what I was doing. It was fun, but it wasn't a good business. I then went back to a different job again, a job I didn't really like but I don't know how, but somehow I stumbled upon the book 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

I was enamored by the idea of passive income and location-independent income. I found an old forum called Warrior Forum about online marketing, affiliate marketing, and blogging.

So I started getting into WordPress and niche sites while working with the Amazon affiliate program and just experimenting with different niche sites. I created a bunch of small websites when I was just kind of learning how to use WordPress and, and learning about affiliate links and SEO but they didn’t make much money.

At one point I was maybe making $400 to $500 a month on a handful of sites, but I wasn't focused on quality content, brand building, or anything like that.

That's how I got started. And that's how it kind of got bitten by the passive income bug and started by making just a little bit of money. I was like, "Okay, this is possible, but I want to focus on a niche that I like".

Could you share with us how long it took you to make your first $1 000 from a blog?

I started in 2013 and in the first year I made $1 844, then I made $7 593 in 2014, $36 566 in 2015, $89 207 in 2016, and it was in 2017 when I broke into 6-figures by making $121 000. Currently, in November 2021, I'm at about $45 000 a month. So that's $540 000 revenue for the year.

As you can see, it’s been a very slow but steady growth rate and it doesn't have to take this long. It just took me so long, but it doesn't have to take that long to get to the point where I am now. To see more about the earnings check out this post on fulltimeblog.com.

What inspired you to start The Modest Man blog?

So I was getting into niche sites, affiliate, marketing, all that stuff. And at the same time, I was trying to become a better-dressed person. I realized that I looked very young and I was a very small guy. I felt like at work, I wasn't being taken seriously.

I didn't feel like a professional and an adult. So I started researching how to dress better, something that I never really thought about until my mid-twenties and I stumbled upon some blogs.

I'm physically unique challenge because I'm a shorter guy and almost all clothes don't fit me off the rack, I have to get them tailored. So I started learning about tailoring and the principles of fit and color. I thought, “If I'm having this problem, there are probably other people having this problem. So I'm going to document whatever I'm learning on how to improve my appearance on a blog.

Just to give the audience a little insight into The Modest Man blog, where is the site now in terms of traffic and revenue generated?

So themodestman.com is part of my portfolio. I have that, alongside slenderwrist.com, and fulltimeblog.com. Then I have the YouTube channel and various social media accounts.

The Modest Man blog specifically is at about 500 000 page views per month and it's generating between $25 000 to $30 000 per month.

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What forms of monetization do you use on the site?

I have an affiliate program, so I’m using affiliate links, and display advertising through AdThrive. I also sell a digital product (an ebook), which to be honest doesn't sell very well but it's something I keep on the site. I think I need to revamp it. It was making about $1 000 per month at its peak but now it just makes a couple of hundred dollars per month. I do think there's potential there, but right now it doesn't make much money.

I also do some sponsored content. I do this on YouTube, Instagram, and sometimes on the website.

We’ve seen that you have built your brand around the website. How has this helped you to make more money from the website?

I think it's good and also bad to have a personal brand around the website. On one hand, these days if you're an independent publisher and not a big magazine, you will be lumped in with influencers. So I started blogging before influencer marketing was a thing, but now I hear from a lot of brands as they're looking for influencers, and PR people to spend their influencer marketing budget on.

I'm fine with that because it opens up a lot of opportunities to work with brands, to have different streams of revenue, to build a bit of a name, and to do speaking gigs at conferences whereby I get to meet a lot of people.

I think that the benefits outweigh the cons. I'd say one drawback is that it might be a little harder to sell your site because it's attached to you.

What are the main sources of traffic for The Modest Man blog?

By far, Google is the main source of traffic. I think about 90% of the traffic is organic and it comes from Google. Then the rest is mostly direct from emails and people going directly to the site.

I get a little bit of referral traffic from other websites and social sites like Reddit, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Do you have a team working with you to create the content or are you doing all of this as a solo entrepreneur?

I do have a team which is a completely remote team and everybody is working part-time. I have an operations manager, a virtual assistant for formatting, a virtual assistant for affiliate links, and a graphic designer.

I also have a  part-time video editor again and 10 regular writers who contribute to The Modest Man and The Slender Wrist. For fulltimeblog.com, I do all that writing myself.

How do you know the particular keywords that will work well and get higher rankings?

You don't get to know unless you have a relatively high authority site. For example, The Slender Wrist is a newer and younger site because of the domain, so the domain rating, Ahrefs is 24 and that's okay. So I know that it can rank for low competition keywords.

But then The Modest Man has a higher domain ranking or domain authority so I'm very confident that it can rank for most keywords in this niche — the men's lifestyle niche. This is because it's not super competitive like other niches such as personal finance, web hosting, or something like that.

So with a domain ranking of 53 from Ahrefs, I don't shy away from any keywords. Nothing is too high competition to go after and also nothing is too low competition. Even if a keyword or phrase has a couple of hundred monthly searches on  Ahrefs, I'll go for it because it's much about ranking number one for a specific high volume keyword these days. It's more about how many keywords can one article rank for.

Your site has both informational content and product content. Which type of content makes you more revenue?

Good question. I think at this point, I would say the product content makes more revenue because it makes both types of revenue; affiliate revenue and ad revenue. This is because on product content like buying guides we add affiliate links and we still place ads on the pages.

Informational articles don't have many affiliate links, so they're making ad revenue, but not a lot of affiliate revenue. However, I would not make a website that only has product content, it needs to have informational content too because I will just be thinking, "What does my audience want? How can I create a complete website experience for my audience?". It doesn't matter what type of content but just think about your audience first. There's always a way to monetize an audience.

What's the most creative way you’ve used to grow your website’s traffic?

Guest posting at the beginning. I think now the term guest posting has been abused to the point where when you hear guest posts, you just think of spammy link-building blackhat SEO.

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Back when I first started in 2013, guest posting just meant you're just writing an article for another site - and I did that. I would reach out to bloggers and not just reach out for a link but I would reach out to meet people, especially those that I respected, and those with websites that I read and learned from. I would reach out and just try to connect with these guys and then eventually we would, we would all write for each other.

The other thing that I did, and I honestly think it still works, is to create a blog post with a list of "Top 50 blogs every man should know about". This is a tried and proven tactic.

You do an epic blog post that features a bunch of other websites and then you reach out to all of the websites and you tell them about it. They might tweet it, or post on Instagram, or promote it anywhere.

And so this article that we made got a ton of attention, social media shoutouts, links, and traffic, over the years. This article was the first post that did well and got me a bit of visibility at the beginning. I still think this tactic works.

What do you think really differentiates you from your competitors and other big sites in your niche such as GQ?

Sites like GQ, are totally about quantity over quality these days. I know that they're always going to have higher domain authority and they're going to be able to throw their weight around. So if GQ publishes "Best men's boots" and I publish "Best men's boots", they're going to probably outrank me.

But if you go to both of those pages, a savvy reader hopefully is going to see that our content is just better, that we tried out the products that we're recommending, we took original pictures, we're not just throwing together these lists, to make a quick affiliate blog.

And I think there's a reason why people have fallen out of love with big sites like GQ. They chase trends and they just try to make money. I feel like they're not focused on content quality. That's not to say they don't have some amazing editorials and writers, they do. But 90% of their content is not that informative.

I want to make sure that when someone lands on a buying guide or an informational article on The Modest Man, they are pleased, and pleasantly surprised by the content because it's better than GQ. I actually wouldn't say GQ is the competition. The other competition is other medium-sized sites that are also doing really good content and good SEO.

We’ve seen that you now have a huge number of subscribers on YouTube. How did you grow that?

 

When I started YouTube, it was pretty much a different platform. The number of subscribers doesn't matter on YouTube anymore, it's all about the view count. YouTube doesn't show your videos to all of your subscribers. They show your videos to a very small portion, maybe 5% of your subscribers. So subscribers are a bit of a vanity metric on YouTube. For me, it's been kind of a roller coaster on YouTube. There have been periods of hyper-growth where we're getting thousands of subscribers every day and there have been flatline periods and I've been in one of those for a long time now.

I guess what works on YouTube is collaborating with other people, by making real relationships, going to conferences, and meeting people in real life. And then, either getting a shoutout from them or doing a video with them. Focusing on quality content does tend to rise to the top these days.

How do you compare affiliate marketing on YouTube and affiliate marketing using Niche sites since you do both?

If I look at all the clicks that I get, the affiliate link clicks total. About 15% of them come from YouTube and 85% come from the website.

So I think the bottom line is people don't click on links on YouTube because most people don't check the description therefore they can't click on a video link.

On Youtube, you have to go to the description and click on a link and most people don't do that because they are probably on their phones, watching a video during lunch or something like that. If you're on a website, you might be ready to buy something. Maybe you're on your computer, and you just googled "Best boots".

So I think that YouTube is good for ad revenue and selling products, but I don't think it's the best platform for affiliate links.

What are your thoughts on the future of The Modest Man blog? Do you have plans to hold onto it and keep scaling or to sell it maybe when it reaches a certain valuation?

So I think about this a lot. I have thought about selling it. It's a good time to sell a site and I think there are more buyers which creates more demand these days than ever. Multiples have gone up over the past few years. I would definitely sell it if it reached a certain valuation, but it would have to be a bit higher than it is now.

It basically has to be an amount of money to get me close to financial independence. Until it gets to that point, I'm pretty happy owning it and, and operating it because it's a relatively hands-off operation at this point and it generates a lot of cash. So I'm pretty happy with it.

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A lot of my focus now is on slenderwrist.com — getting it up to speed. I think it could be just as big as The Modest Man but right now it's much smaller. It's probably about 1/20 of the size in terms of traffic and revenue.

So yeah, I think there's a sale in the future sometime, I just don't know how long until that happens.

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