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Intro: Welcome to Episode 194 of How I Built It. This episode is brought to you by Yes Plz, iThemes, and Hostinger. Jase Rodley has a lot going on. In fact, since we recorded this episode, he stepped down from his company Rank Defender to run Dialed Labs. His energy and drive are apparent in this interview where we talk about making resource sites and making money with those resource sites. Essentially, he tells us how to make content to fill a demand and generate a little bit of money along the way. I even put him on the spot and had him help me through an idea during the episode. That was not planned. I felt a little bad, but not really. Jason is a pro, so he helped me out. And I think that’s a really interesting part of the episode. So listen for that and more and let me know what ideas you come up with. All right.
We’ll get to all of that in a minute. But let’s hear a word from our first sponsor.
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And now back to the Show.
Joe: Hey, everybody, and welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, How did you build that? Today I am here with my guest Jase Rodley. He is the CEO of Rank Defender. We’re gonna be talking about a lot of different stuff today around SEO, content marketing, coming up with ideas for content. We talked about making resource sites for fun and money. I love fun and money, so maybe we can touch on that too. Jase, thanks for joining me today.
Jase: Thanks very much for having me.
Joe: My pleasure. Well, I just gave an intro about some of the stuff we’re going to talk about. But before we get into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Jase: Okay. I am an ordinary internet marketer guy. I make enough websites number one in Google. That’s pretty much the summary. I’ve kind of done every level of SEO I suppose. I’m really into the tech side. So I obsess over how well optimized a website is from a technical point of view. But content is really my background, content production, keyword research. That’s pretty much me.
Joe: Awesome. As a web developer myself and someone who focuses on making good websites, I’m also a bit obsessed with the tech side. So why don’t we start there if you don’t mind. I know we didn’t talk about that at all in the pre-show. But what can somebody do to make sure their website is up to snuff as far as the technical side goes for SEO?
Jase: I guess there’s so many different elements. I don’t want to just rattle off a list on your show. But there are so many tools out there now that can help you to do…I guess you could say that 80-20 of technical SEO. It doesn’t really matter which SEO tool you’re using at the moment. A lot of the SAS based products, so like Ahrefs and SEMrush, they’ve all got website audits built-in now, and they will do simple things like checking for broken links and making sure that all pages are indexable. I mean, there are so many different factors. Again, I don’t want to give you a laundry list, but if you use one of those tools, and you fix those issues, you will do the bulk of the work nowadays.
There are some locally hosted tools you can use. So Screaming Frog SEO Spider and WebSite Auditor by SEO PowerSuite are my favorites. Then in addition to that, you have a whole…I would say the new focus nowadays. A few years ago, everyone was crazy. Mobile-fast or mobile-friendly websites and responsive websites was like a really big deal. And nowadays, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website by now, I don’t even think you’re trying.
Joe: Yeah, right.
Jase: Well, I would say that maybe the last major change was website security—making sure that your website is secure. From my perspective, what’s been happening the last couple of years and what’s probably going to become more and more important in the next few years is performance. So Google has a really great tool. There’s a toolbox built into Chrome called Lighthouse, and then there’s also a website called web.dev that has this measure tool built in that you can use to measure mostly performance, but also accessibility.
Joe: Awesome. That sounds great. And if I can just shamelessly plug my new book right now, HTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, I talk about all three of those things: site security, performance, and accessibility. I think that you hit on some really important topics that you’re right are going to be the next big focus. Because a few years ago it was mobile sites. And like you said, if you don’t have a mobile site, now you’re like, not even trying. Because even if you use like Squarespace or Wix, or some template website builder, those are all responsive. They all have mobile-friendly templates.
Jase: Yeah. I mean, for someone like myself who has been building websites forever, I kind of hate them because I can’t do enough with them. For a small business owner, they’re pretty great. To be able to just off the shelf it ticks enough of the boxes to work, you didn’t have that option…If you rewind 10 years ago, you didn’t have that option.
Joe: Yeah, sure.
Jase: Things are changing for sure.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. My sister in law has a salon and she asked me to build her a website and I was like, “Nope, go to Squarespace.” I’m like, “You’re not gonna pay me what I think I should be paid. We’re gonna be at each other’s throats by the end of it. Just use Squarespace. It will make your life much easier.” I have a few clients that I’ve had for a long time that don’t have the biggest budgets but with WordPress and a page builder like Beaver Builder, I can do 80% of what I need to do with the page builder, and then I’ll throw in some HTML, CSS and custom stuff for the last 20%. But it really cuts down on the budget for them too. So it’s definitely something that web developers or small business owners could take advantage of.
Jase: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is, to some extent, why we set up Rank Defender is I have a lot of websites for myself. So I guess hopefully we’ll talk about this later is making websites for money. I have websites that I don’t really think too much about every day. They just kind of get neglected if I don’t pay attention to them. So I set up Rank Defender because I wanted to be able to hand off to a team who’s keeping these things maintained and making sure that if links break, they’re getting fixed, making sure that it’s getting sort of upgraded to the latest standard, whatever that standard is.
I think sometimes people think SEO is a little bit set and forget, but it’s really a bit of a moving target. It’s like an ad campaign. If you neglect an ad campaign for long enough, like a PPC campaign, you end up paying crazy amounts on…you know, that keyword worked last year, but this year it doesn’t. So it’s kind of the same deal.
Joe: I think that’s such an important thing to think about because I think we’re all kind of looking for that how can I sit on a beach and make money, that 4-hour Work Week that Tim Ferriss talked about, but definitely doesn’t adhere to because his podcast alone is four hours. Not to knock Tim Ferriss obviously. He’s doing something right that I’m not doing. But I think that the ideas behind the book are being taken literally by some people. And that tangent is to point out what you said SEO is not set and forget, it’s important.
I talked about the same thing with courses. People think that making an online course will be passive income. It’s not passive income. You have people who are trying to learn and they might need you. So managing those expectations is so important from the outset.
Jase: Yeah. I don’t want to kind of spread the story too far across all these different random businesses that I run, but one of my latest businesses is operating websites on behalf of investors. We’re only starting off small, but we have a million in assets at this point in time. With what you’re saying is the motivation for me to set this up is I’ve realized that I can build these different types of websites. It’s maybe not easy to build, but I guess I’ve spent time learning how to build them and I have a system for building them and maintaining them myself. But the issue with being a one man business is when I die, what happens?
I have a 2-year-old son and my wife, obviously. I mean, it’s on my mind now. The way that I look at business has changed. Nowadays it’s more along the lines of like what happens if I die? Maybe a little bit morbid, but I know other people that are the same. They like the idea of investing in these types of websites, but they want it to be passive. But I think they’re sold as passive, like certain brokers and the way people talk about this stuff on the internet is very much like the 4-hour Work Week. It’s so good you just get to like chill. But it’s really not the case. So without the system to take care of it, it’s going to eventually fade out.
I mean, you can be lucky and have some websites and they just keep burning for quite a while, but they all pretty much end up fading out if you don’t do something to them. For me, in everything I do now, I’m like, “Well, how can I actually have a system to take care of what I’ve built.” The funny thing is I’ve taken this from the 4-hour Work Week. I think I read that for the first time maybe, I don’t even know, a decade ago, or like 13 years ago and I read it again last year and everything just clicked in a completely different way. My understanding was completely different this time around.
Joe: Interesting. Maybe I’ll pick it up again. I read it and I was like, “Well this sounds outlandish already.” Because he starts with like, “I just ate my 12th cupcake and in an hour or whatever.” I’m like, “Dude, what are you talking about?” But maybe it’s time for me to revisit it. Because same, I have two kids now. I’m thinking about how is this business going to continue to support my family. My wife is a nurse and she maybe wants to drop down to part time or stop working to raise the kids. I fully support that as long as you know we can financially and with insurance and stuff like that. Perhaps it’s something worth reading.
Jase: I’m not sure if this exactly came from the book. However…I’m just loading up my Trello board quickly. So this is pretty much what I pulled from the book. These are my notes from the book. Eliminate, simplify, automate, process, and delegate.
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And now back to the show.
Joe: You’ve talked about this a couple of times already and I just want to jump to it. Making resource websites for fun and money was something that you mentioned, investing in operating and websites. This is something I tried to do a couple of years ago. My friend and friend of the show Shannon Shaffer, she was on earlier this year, did something very similar with a website where it just generated a bunch of affiliate income essentially for her. She found the right niche and she sold it for some undisclosed amount of money, and she’s moved on from that. I thought about doing the same thing and I set up a website because I can do that quickly. And then when it came to producing the content or coming up with a strategy, I kind of fell flat and I started focusing on other things.
Let’s talk about building a resource site. Maybe you could start with defining it because maybe I’ve set the wrong expectation here. How would you build something like that? And how do you run it?
Jase: Okay. When I say resource site, for me, that’s just like a fun term for being the ultimate source. I mean, Wikipedia is awesome, right?
Jase: Imagine if Wikipedia didn’t exist today and you were like, “Man, I’m going to create this kind of the Wikipedia.” I mean, to have that yourself and to build out from scratch. I guess that’s more of a community-driven site, but it’s probably the go-to for most people on most topics. Like if Google didn’t exist and you had to go to a website, I think most people would probably be like, “Yeah, I’d use Wikipedia a lot.” I try and replicate that idea on a very specific tight niche.
So I have some location-based websites, like some immigration based websites, purely because I’m just like a tax nerd and I live overseas. I’d had to research moving overseas myself. So I’ve kind of researched the possibility of living in a lot of different countries and so I just thought of building websites because it was interesting. I have sports-based websites because I’m into sports and just other random hobbies. Usually, through my research process, I just write about things because that’s how I take notes whenever I’m researching.
Then I’m just so used to building websites now that it’s easy for me to…well, maybe not easy, but it’s fun for me to turn that into a website. So when I’m building a website, though, and when I’m planning out the structure of a website and planning out all of content, what I’m the most interested in is writing about what people want. If you think of this in the business sense, if you are selling a product that is in demand, it’s relatively easy to sell. As long as it’s priced correctly and you put it in front of those people that want it, your life is so much easier. I have tried to sell products that no one wants, and it’s like banging your head on the wall.
So I try and do the same thing with content now. In some cases, I pay hundreds of dollars for the right piece of content. I have writers who I work with. And I’ll pay good money for really great content but I’m not going to pay hundreds of dollars for a piece of content that no one will ever see. So my goal is to get as much value out of that content as possible, as much revenue out of that content as possible.
I think that’s the mistake a lot of people make when they’re building websites is they kind of produce what they feel is important to tell, but they’re not necessarily producing what people want to read or need to read. So as an SEO, I’m just straight to keyword research. I’m interested in what are people searching for. As long as you have a tight niche, you can create a plan that just…I use the word domination a lot. And I think it’s the best way to go with SEO is don’t try and just talk about some of the topics, talk about all of the topics. If that doesn’t work, if you’re on a tight budget and you’re planning a website on like tennis, because obviously there’s a lot of topics on tennis, but if you’re an expert on…I don’t know enough about tennis. I can’t come up with a good example.
Joe: Tennis sport in the Midwest or whatever.
Jase: That’s a pretty tight niche. You don’t want a certain type of surface because it’s really expensive to water that grass. There are fewer topics, so then you can become like a micro authority if you want.
Joe: I switched from my regular Show Notes app to my field notes notebook, because now I’m writing ideas that you’re giving me. Actually, I want you to finish this thought because this is coming up with the idea for a resource site.
Jase: I use Ahrefs religiously. There are tons of different SEO tools you can use and tons of different keyword research tools you can use. When people are on a crazy budget, or if I speak with people who are just kind of getting started in this whole industry, I think people can get caught up a little bit with search volume. The honest truth of search volume is that no one knows. So you can pay a lot of money for Ahrefs to tell you the wrong thing and you can prove Ahrefs wrong all the time. That’s not to say that it’s not a valuable guide. It’s totally a valuable guide. But if you don’t have any money, I mean, there are tools around. Can I swear?
Joe: I’m probably gonna beep it, but you can swear if you want to.
Jase: Okay. There’s a cool website called keywordshitter.com. You just type in a seed keyword and it just goes nuts. It’ll just spit out thousands of keywords. There’s tons of little tools like that on the internet that you don’t have to pay for, and it can…Ahrefs saves you a lot of time. That’s the summary. I mean, that’s why people like myself pay for it is because when you start pricing your time in a certain way, it just makes sense. But if you’re on a crazy budget and you don’t want to spend on a keyword tool like that, I mean, there’s tons of free options.
You can literally scroll to the bottom of a search result page and take the keywords that Google has suggested. I mean, at the bottom of every page, they’re like, “Did you make the search for…? Maybe these terms are better.” They’re telling you those terms because that’s what other people are looking for when they search for that initial seed term. My process is to just brainstorm and just spit out everything. And then I reduce and I reduce, and I reduce.
Actually, going back to number two in that list is simplify. I love to simplify. I think my default mode in my brain is to make things complex. So I have to tell myself, like, “Okay, this is crazy. Make it easier. Make it easier. Make it easier.” And ever since I’ve kind of embraced that way of doing business, things have become a lot easier. I’ve become more successful.
My goal with these resource websites is to have as few pages as possible. It’s kind of ironic that I’m telling you dominate your niche and become the authority but actually create little content as possible. But you can do both. So you want each piece of content to be super, super potent, and to cover every single topic.
Joe: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I had a guest on the show recently. His name is Dave Shrein, and he talked about the idea of a pillar page. This was a totally new concept to me. I’ve kind of taken the more Seth Godin approach to blogging, I guess, where I blogged a few paragraphs about a thing. But he said these pillar pages should have like thousands, maybe 10s of thousands of words on them. He was talking about a sales page for marketing. So maybe it’s a little bit different. But I think it’s interesting to have a really potent piece of content.
I’m going to pick an idea that I just quickly scribbled down here. I’m a cigar guy. So let’s say I wanted to create a resource site on cigars for people who have been smoking cigars for 10 years or five years. Maybe they’re not beginners, but they’re not like the old guy in the cigar shop. What kind of content…and not subject matter wise but like long form videos, short form. What kind of content should I be writing for this website?
Jase: A caveat for you is that I’m like a written content guy. Even the way I consume content on the internet, I listened to a couple of podcasts a week, but I’m not listening to podcasts all day. And I watch maybe one informational video per month. So I’m like a dinosaur. I love written content. I’ll read blog posts. I know it’s inefficient, but I’ll read blog posts all day long because I love it.
But if I’m thinking down the track of what I would produce for that website, and I don’t know anything about cigars, I mean, if I was going to look into that topic, first of all, I would be like, “Well, what different types of cigars are there?” I think you could easily find a topic that would be along the lines of which cigar is right for you. I don’t know what the keyword would be. That’s probably the wrong type of keyword. It could be like a cigar buyers guide. Already in that, I mean, how many different categories of cigars would you say they are?
Joe: Well, they could be categorized by flavor, profile, where the tobacco is grown, size, shape, all of those are going to affect the smoking experience. So how long they’ve been aged. But most people will look at how strong they are, mild, medium-full, where the tobacco is grown, and then the shape and size. This is like a free consulting session for me almost.
Jase: All right. So let’s say we’ve got the buyers guide, which might just be…or “which cigar is right for me” article. Then we can easily have a flavor profile guide. Again, I don’t know what the keyword would be. So I’m using the wrong terms. But it would be like a general guide that discusses all flavor profiles. And I think you can talk in fair detail about each flavor profile. In that you can then link off to a specific flavor profile. Again, my gut feeling is the cigar market is large enough that you would have…what’s one of the flavor profiles?
Jase: Okay, I’m just doing a quick search now.
Joe: Thank you. I didn’t realize I’d be putting you on the spot like this so much.
Jase: Oh, it’s cool. I don’t mind. I always deal with this type of thing. Like Cocoa cigars, like chocolate flavored cigars?
Joe: Yeah, like hints of cocoa is usually how it’s described.
Jase: I mean, this is the thing, is that’s how you describe it. For me, I’ve learned so much about marketing, when I realized I don’t know what my audience wants. When you start to get into this process of researching, researching, researching…I’m only doing super high-level research, but from what I’m discovering, people are probably more likely searching for chocolate-flavored as opposed to cocoa. I’m sure if you keep digging, you’ll find more cocoa stuff. But it may be that although you’re used to using the term “cocoa” and maybe that’s what your part of the world refers to it as and actually the rest of the US like, you know, in a different region that kind of refers to in a different way, there’s all these different things. And I just try and come in with no bias and let the keywords tell me what people are searching for.
Joe: That’s an excellent point, though, right? Because I have been smoking cigars for a third of my life at this point, I guess. Oh, definitely over a decade. I know for the most part, the terminology, right? But if I’m aiming at somebody who’s maybe smoked a few cigars and wants to get into it more, maybe they don’t know that cocoa is a flavor profile.
Jase: Yeah, exactly. And sometimes when people are describing things for the first time, they’re kind of working with words that are familiar to them and they haven’t become part of that…they’re not part of the scene yet. So if they’re a beginner, they’re like, “Well, what does it taste like?” “I guess it’s chocolatey.” And when they get more educated, then they’ll use the term cocoa because I guess that’s more sophisticated. But in the early days, they’re just working with what they know.
So you’ve got your flavor profile. That would be a fairly authoritative article that just talks about all the flavors, and then you can easily write an article on each of the flavors. Where it’s grown is an awesome one. I can totally see how that will work because…And actually fun fact for you. I think one of Andorra’s largest imports is tobacco. Sorry, one of the Andorra’s largest exports and imports.
Joe: Really? Awesome.
Jase: So they grow pretty bad quality tobacco here as I understand it because the cigarette industry sells a lot of cigarettes here because of the low sales tax.
Jase: But before they can import cigarettes, they have to export. So they have to sell all of the locally grown tobacco here. So it’s kind of like a little money making…
Joe: Oh, wow.
Jase: The where it’s grown article, I mean, you can talk about all the different countries. But I’m sure that you could easily write an authority article on each country and maybe the type of tobacco they’re known for and the cigars that they produce. Similarly, with size and shape. I mean, everything you’ve rattled off is enough seed topics to kick off the research.
Joe: Good pun.
Jase: Yeah. So I produce a spreadsheet. I spit out a spreadsheet. Everything goes into Notepad at first. I’m just like smashing out text. Copy, paste. Copy, paste. And then I organized that all into a spreadsheet. And every single row is a page. And when I say page, that could be a blog post, that could be on an eCommerce site that might be like a product.
Joe: Every URL is essentially its own URL.
Jase: Exactly. Then some of those might only have two keywords, some of them might have 10 or more that I’m trying to rank for. I think that’s where things have changed a lot in SEO is back when I started it was very much one page per keyword. And now things have totally changed. I’ve some websites where probably a hundred or so keywords are bringing traffic to that page. But it’s just because there are so many very similar terms that people use to talk about the same topic. And Google so much smarter with understanding like topics versus keywords. I think some people haven’t quite got out of the mindset of keywords and they don’t realize that humans understand topics and search engines aren’t too far away.
Joe: That’s really interesting. Because I use a popular SEO plugin for my WordPress site and I used to be very, will say diligent about filling out the keyword, and making sure that it’s all green dots or whatever. Then I started to wonder like, “Is this really helping me?” I stopped doing that because I was like, “All right, I’ll put in the key phrase, or the key word I’m trying to rank for but I want to write good readable content based on topic instead. And focusing on the green dots is maybe not the best use of my time.”
Jase: I think that was a great way to train people into thinking about these key elements. I think that plugin did a lot of good for quite a long time.
Joe: Yeah. And don’t get me wrong. I should say that they do…I mean, we’re talking about Yoast SEO, and they still do great work. I read their blog regularly and I love their advice. But I think for a while I trained myself to focus on the wrong thing that they were trying to teach. I’ll put it that way.
Joe: And I think in some ways, they’ve been kind of on teaching that. If you read a lot of this stuff, they’re like, “This is a guide. Take this as a guide.” That’s all it is. That’s another part that I use in my process is Google’s really transparent. Well, no, they’re really opaque in some ways, but they’re really transparent in other ways. I mean, you know what ranks are. You know what’s on page one. You don’t want to copy what’s on page one, but part of my process is analyzing the page or the piece of content, whatever that I’ve produced, or that maybe I’ve produced a few years ago and that content is gone out of date and it needs updating.
I analyze that against what’s on page one of Google, and really the top few results in Google. It’ll tell me things like my original piece of content is now way too long and you need a shortened content. Like you wrote three and a half thousand words and actually now everything that’s rankings 2000 words. Maybe I’ve written about cigars, and I’ve written about cocoa-flavored cigars and I haven’t mentioned the shape, and there’s clear words, there’s clear terms that are missing that’s actually important to include. So everything that’s ranking includes the word “shape”. There’s a lot of general rules, but you’d really need to know that that’s a general rule. That’s all it is. SEO in most cases, at least in competitive niches, is becoming so competitive, the general rules don’t work anymore.
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And let’s get back to it.
Joe: As we come up on time here, we talked about building out the content, figuring out what to do…Full disclosure, by the way, Ahrefs has been mentioned. They are a previous sponsor of the show, and they’ll be linked in the show notes. I’ll also link to my interview with Joost de Valk too. He was one of the first guests on the show.
So let’s talk about the making money side of it. How would I monetize a site? We don’t have to talk about cigars if that’s like…I know some sites have like affiliate programs. But is it like straight AdSense? Or is it affiliate programs? Is it some combination?
Jase: Everything. For the resource sites I’m talking about, I have sites that…I mean, traditional affiliate is easy, but you really need to understand control. I think affiliate is great and I love affiliate but you need to be very aware that you’re making money. It’s good when you’re making money, basically. And that can be turned off at any time.
The important thing to remember is you still own traffic and that traffic is valuable. And I think this is what people forget. So this is why I love investing in websites is because you can buy an affiliate website, especially an affiliate website after the commissions have been slashed, and you can get it for a good price. And maybe a certain type of ad network can make more money than it was making before. Maybe you can strike up a direct deal with a brand that is very closely related to it. I mean, if you take your cigar example, maybe there aren’t any good affiliate programs. But if you contact a high-quality cigar seller in the US and say, “I have a website, it gets 100,000 sessions a month, these people are super keen. It’s very transactional content. Do you want to advertise on my website?” Few businesses would say no to that, especially if it’s in their favor.
I have a few different types of websites and depending on how they make money, there’s kind of a different risk profile or different profile for how that revenue comes in. So affiliate through Amazon, for example, or Amazon Associates is kind of predictable. It’s more to do with seasonality. Certain products might earn better in certain times of year. Like a skiing website, it’s pretty straightforward that people buy skis before ski season. Like a home entertainment, an outdoor entertainment type website, or maybe pool toys, people are going to be buying that in summer. Then pretty much everything kind of takes up for Christmas. It doesn’t really matter what niche you’re in. Usually, you make good money at Christmas.
Joe: I always had that day my gift guides like November 1, around about that because, hey, always kill it for the holidays.
Jase: Yeah. So I would say that you have websites like that where seasonality is probably the more important thing. Then you have other websites where it can be quite volatile. So it’s entirely based on traffic and sales. So maybe there’s like a super deal on at the time and you can push that and you can get a big revenue boost, but then that can go away or that affiliate program that you’ve made really great money from super, super large commissions for six months or a year, they decide to close or they go bankrupt or whatever. It’s sort of fleeting. You have to be very adaptable. And it’s totally not passive, I will say.
And then the last one, which is kind of my favorite is what I call rank and rent, which is, you know, I spent years trying to set up a marketing agency, and SEO kind of sucks to sell to be honest. You’re like, “Hey, you give me this money and in theory, in six months, 12 months, you’ll get results.” People are like, “I don’t know. It’s pretty risky.” I can just pay Google today and get clicks immediately.
Joe: Right. It’s almost like a really expensive Kickstarter, right?
Joe: Where it’s like you pay today, and then you get it like a year from now, maybe.
Jase: The tricky thing is, you don’t have full control when it’s their website anyway. I used to do SEO for tech companies, for small IT companies. And they always want to host the website themselves. No offense to their developers but quite often they would be in situations where they’d make a change because I guess their systems changed or they upgraded their systems and it was all locally hosted and they’d break a bunch of SEO stuff. And I’m tearing my hair out because I want to get them results. It’s almost like this predictable cycle of you begin to get results, they break something, you have to fix it. You begin to get results, they break something, you have to fix it. They fire you because they didn’t get results.
I love this rank and rent model because you can rank a website, build a website that you know is going to generate leads for a certain type of business, and then when it’s number one in Google, give them a call and say, “Hey, I have a website. It’s number one in Google. Do you want to be on it?” The sales pitch is so much easier.
Joe: You did all the work beforehand and now you’re selling them the results instead of selling them the solution to eventually get the result?
Joe: Exactly. So it’s like, “Hey, there’s no risk Do you want to be number one?” And then they just pay on a month to month basis to rent the website. All their contact details get changed over and they get all the leads they want?
Joe: Wow, that’s super interesting. If we go back to the cigar example, now, let’s say you have created a site. It’s like bestcigarsever.com or whatever, and you’re ranking number one, and then you reach out to me, Joe’s cigar company, or Joe’s cigar shop and you say this is number one, do you want to rent this website for however many months. And then what? Now, I can put on my own lead magnet on there and stuff like that, or whatever?
Jase: You can put your logo on there if you want, you can put your telephone number, your email address. I mean, you do whatever you want. One thing that I love doing is with content marketing, it builds a lot of trust. My personal website, people contact me all the time. And I just tell my life story on that website. I’m not a hold of back type person. I was a little bit uncomfortable doing that at first until I realized people send me their life story. It’s actually super nice that they identify with me. There’s so much trust. And that helps from an SEO point of view. When I sell SEO people contact me and they’ll discover something about my life and they’ll be like, “Hey, I’m really into mountain biking as well. This is cool. Can we talk SEO sometime?” It just makes the sales process so much easier for myself because I’m a bit introverted.
I try and kind of make this clear to people who are advertising on these websites is when you’re dealing with very warm leads. I mean, people are grateful for the content that you’ve produced, not that you have actually produced it. So what I do sometimes is I would put like, “Joe is the author of this article.” Even though you haven’t written it, it’s kind of like, “Joe is the expert on cigars. Joe has been smoking for this long and he set up this business because he’s so passionate about it and everything.” And people are like, “Oh, wow, I got to talk to this guy.” It can be really cool. I find it works especially well for service-based products where there’s like a consultative sale. It’s not so much for eCommerce.
Joe: Like an auto body shop or something like that.
Jase: It’s easy. Like auto body shop. I’m always impressed when devs have really great websites, by the way. It’s such a great lead gen system for your business because people know this guy really knows what he’s talking about. Again, it’s a soft sale. The lead is warm. They might have read three or four of your articles and they’re pretty much convinced they’re going to pay you money before they even contact you.
Joe: Right, right. Absolutely. Something I’ve noticed happened to me recently is I’ve been being introduced as the podcast guy. And in my head, I know real podcast guys. I’m like, “I’m not the podcast guy.” But they’re like, “I read your blog and all this great advice.” And I’m like, “Yeah, all right, I’ve established trust now, which is good, because I’ve launched a podcasting course and I want people to buy it. So I hope they trust me enough.”
But I think you’re so right. I think it’s amazing telling your life story. It gives people something to relate to you already. I’m a super extroverted person so I could talk forever to anybody about anything. But when people come up to me at conferences, and they’re like, “that picture that you posted of your daughter was so sweet. And it’s great that you both like the Yankees or whatever, even though I’m a Red Sox fan.” It gives them something now that we’ve connected to on more than just a business transactional basis.
Jase: Exactly. I guess these websites don’t always have that whole story. But even in some cases, if we go down the cigar example and you own a local cigar store, and we had a website on this, I might say to you, actually, let’s edit this existing article and put in this intro about your history with this. Maybe like your father was involved in that industry and you’re really passionate about it now and something. I guess what I rank is the basic site, and from there, you can do anything with it. That’s the best part of having a website.
Joe: Yeah, for sure. That’s awesome. First of all, all cigar websites suck. I don’t know what goes on in that industry, but they’re all terrible. So if I can improve that industry in any way, I want to. But I think that’s amazing. And you definitely struck a chord there because my dad doesn’t smoke, but I got into cigars because of my grandfather. So it’s a nice personal touchpoint.
Man, we’ve been talking for a while. As we wrap up here, maybe can you give the listeners one or two tips on if they want to start a resource site…it’s probably going to be something you’ve mentioned already. But if they want to start a resource site, what’s the first two steps that they should take?
Jase: If you’re going to start a resource site, what I would say is be very clear on your niche. So make sure that you know what you want to build that site about. Then brainstorm on every topic that maybe even you wish you knew about before you started researching. If you’re experienced, sometimes you can forget this type of thing. But kind of try and remember back to when you were a complete beginner, or maybe even ask a friend on what they wish they knew. And just write everything down. Just note everything down, note everything down, take notes.
Then when you have a bunch of notes and some coherent different topics, group everything together and then go to your keyword research tools. From there, honestly, I would just simplify, simplify, simplify. You might have hundreds of pages. Just try and reduce that down until you’ve got like a nice little potent list of pages or blog posts.
Joe: That’s great. And then it makes the project less overwhelming too, right? Saying, “I got to make 100 pages” or saying, “I got to make 10 pages, or 20 or whatever.” Totally different.
Jase: My rank and rent website is to 10 pages.
Joe: Awesome. That’s fantastic. And just for clarification, is there like an about page? Or is it like all focused, potent content?
Jase: I’m thinking through my sites. My affiliate sites all have about pages. Some of my rank and rent sites have service pages, where they’ve asked to add pages on afterwards. I’m not even sure any of them have about pages.
Jase: This is what I mean. Keep it simple.
Joe: Yeah, right. Interesting.
Jase: All the contact details are in the header and the footer and the author box. I mean, what do you need and about page for?
Joe: Interesting. Very cool. Thank you for clarifying that. Before we leave today, I do need to ask you my favorite question, which is—and I’ll preface this by saying it doesn’t have to be an actual secret. It could be like a good piece of advice that you don’t think anybody takes—do you have any trade secrets for us?
Jase: Once you have a website that’s established, you know, if you have produced a website that has really great content and you want to get links, go to helperreporter.com and sign up and try and make it a habit to reply to…depends on how much free time you have. Make it a habit to reply to one a day, one a week. Doesn’t matter. Just make it a habit. It feels like a hell of a waste of time but it compounds.
Joe: Oh, man, that’s such great advice. I was following Haro Help a Reporter Out for a while and then I stopped. And I just recently thought about doing it again. So now you are absolutely giving me the push I needed to sign up again.
Jase: I’m all about habits. It’s so difficult because you kind of put all this effort in and you don’t get anything back for ages. As you learn how the system works, and you keep doing it, you get traction.
Joe: Interesting. Awesome. Jase, this has been such an amazing episode. We covered a lot of ground. I really appreciate your advice, but also like how deliberate you were with your words. I really like that. Because I usually just talk until something good comes out. And I feel like you really thought about what you were saying. So this was a great episode. If people want to learn more, where can they find you?
Joe: All right. I will link to both of those and lots of stuff that we talked about in the show notes over at howibuilt.it. Jase, thanks so much for joining me today.
Jase: Thank you for having me, Joe.
Joe: Thanks so much to Jase for joining us this week. He has just lots of great advice. I’ve started using Haro Help a Reporter Out because of him. I am still dialing in my pitch but I think that it’s a great resource. Reply to one a day or one a week. Just make a habit of it. I think that’s really good because you do need to establish yourself as an expert. Going into 2021, I will definitely have more information about that.
Now there were lots of other takeaways here. If you want to get just a list of takeaways delivered to your inbox, you can sign up for the Build Something Weekly newsletter over at howibuilt.it/subscribe. That’s howibuilt.it/subscribe. You’ll get lots of information over there. For all of the show notes, as well as another opt in form for Build Something Weekly, you can head over to howibuilt.it/194. You’ll find everything we talked about as well as our sponsors for this week’s episode, Yes Plz Coffee, iThemes, and Hostinger. Thanks so much to them. The show would not be able to happen without them. And of course, it wouldn’t be able to happen without you, dear listener. So thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.