500k Monthly Visitors & Full Time Income For An Animal Blog

The Scott Max Newsletter

In Partnership with Blinkist

Hi 👋, this is the Scott Max Newsletter. The soon-to-be daily email bringing you one step closer to your own thriving online business.

We analyze a wonderful, small, online business each week with a full breakdown of how it makes money, why it makes money, and its opportunities to grow. Below that, we give you the action steps to build a business like this to create freedom for yourself.

This is the best way to learn the tactics, skillset, and nuance of making money online.

Let’s get to the good stuff you'll see in this email:

  • A successful business generating six figures with 500k monthly traffic
  • The secrets behind its high organic traffic and an email list with 50,000 subscriptions
  • A road map with an implementation strategy to help you set up a similar thriving business.

But first, let me introduce our partner for this email, Blinkist

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The What 🚀

A successful blog raking half a million page views monthly and multiple revenue streams

In this week's newsletter, you get to know the inside scoop on a thriving birding blog that started out as a side hustle and now provides some of the best resources in its niche.

You will discover the unique way that the founder's passion for his niche helped his side hustle become so successful and fulfilling that he left his high-paying career in insurance to run the business full-time.

Our analysis covers a detailed breakdown of the business' revenue sources, the techniques and practices that attract traffic and how this business has scaled and evolved over time.

The How 💻

This business gains traction and stands out by providing relevant, unique content that provides real utility for users interested in birding. If you further, you will find out exactly why this blog stands out from its competition.

Furthermore, the blog is able to pull in readers by creating articles that are optimised with relevant keywords, enabling it to rank high on search engines and increasing its visibility.

Top SEO pages for this site from Ahrefs, our recommended SEO tool for pretty much everything.

The articles that are featured on this blog are tailored to bird lovers, bird watchers and lovers of nature. It includes over a hundred relevant posts on bird feeders, bird seeds, how to attract birds and other wildlife to one's backyard, etc.

There are multiple income sources for this business including affiliate commissions, display ads, e-commerce, and Youtube ads.

Display ads account for up to 75% of this business' earnings. Using Adthrive, relevant ads are displayed to users plus this blog has an average RPM (Revenue Per Thousand Impressions) of $40. This simply means that for every 1,000 views on an ad, the business earns an average of $40.

Display Ad at the bottom of the website's page

Amazon affiliate commissions contribute a significant 15% to the business' revenue. Affiliate links and discount codes are placed in product review articles in the form of headings, buttons or CTAs.

Affiliate links attached to a heading and CTA button

Other affiliate networks that generate revenue for this business include JCS Wildlife and Netvue.

With the help of affiliate links and links to this business' e-commerce store, users can find birding equipment like binoculars, birdfeeders, and cameras among others.

The Why 🔥

We can attribute the success of this business to a number of factors which include:

  • Niche Passion:

A combination of passion, great understanding, and laser focus on the birding niche helped this business go from a side hustle to a six-figure full-time job.

Niche passion can benefit a business by helping to create a unique selling proposition, establishing authority, and making it easier to target and retain customers, ultimately leading to higher profit margins.

It is a powerful tool that has helped this business to create content that truly resonates with customers such as live cam footage showing the real-case use of some equipment recommendations found on the blog.

Altogether, this has helped the business to differentiate itself, build brand loyalty, and achieve long-term success.

  • On-Page Seach Engine Optimization:

In the early months of this business, there wasn't as much traffic because an important step was skipped which was keyword research. The owner wrote about birding topics that interested him and hoped that such content would attract his target audience.

You guessed right, it did not. However, after using a Keyword research tool to find relevant keywords, the traffic gradually went from 20 monthly views to 20k monthly views and now over 500k.

SEO Report from Ahrefs, the #1 SEO Tool I recommend

By targeting high-volume keywords with low to medium search volume, this site is able to rank impressively high for multiple keywords.

The use of intriguing and engaging content also helps to make articles more reader-friendly. This includes the use of captivating titles, easy-to-read grammar, and a skimmable writing style.

  • Unique Offering:

One approach that sets this business apart from its competition is the value users get from an interesting combination of educative content, utility and live bird cam footage.

Live bird cam footage gives users a unique perspective on bird behaviour and helps birders to observe rare or elusive bird species that they may not be able to see in person. It is a valuable resource for birding blogs in general and enhances the content and experience for readers.

The use of enticing CTAs also draws readers' attention, ensuring that they do not skim over the offer.

This unique offering is also a major source of content for the business' Youtube channel which has over 91,000 subscriptions. Overall, this approach enhances the customer experience, attracts new customers, and increases traffic and revenue for the blog.

It is also important to note that this business conducted competitor analysis to determine what others in its niche were doing right and wrong and how to beat them at both.

  • Skilful Use of Compelling Lead Magnets For Email Marketing

Lead magnets are free resources and incentives that a website provides to its visitors in exchange for their contact information, in this case, their email addresses. This website uses a variety of lead magnets to attract and convert visitors which include

  1. A free birding guide

2. An opt-in form

3. A pop-up quiz—the results can be obtained in exchange for an email subscription

Together, these lead magnets are a visually appealing solution that fulfils the need of the audience and helps the business build its mailing list, leading to more revenue.

These efforts are clearly paying off as this business sends email marketing content, twice a week to over 50,000 email subscribers

The Opportunities 🔥🔥🔥

  • Off-Page SEO:

In order to reap the full benefits of SEO efforts, proper off-page SEO must be adopted, and while this business has a good backlink profile, more work can be done to achieve long-term success.

Acquiring high-quality backlinks from other authoritative websites can significantly contribute to improved search engine rankings, organic traffic, referral traffic, and domain authority.

Off-page SEO goes beyond link building, it also involves leveraging social media to promote content and maintaining a positive online reputation.

  • Social Media Expansion:

This business already leverages the power of social media for business growth, visibility and engagement with its audience. It has an impressive presence on Pinterest and Facebook with thousands of followers and a consistent, up-to-date content output.

Source: Facebook

Source: Pinterest

However, as a birding blog, the use of Instagram can be incredibly beneficial as it is a highly visual platform, which is perfect for showcasing stunning images and videos of birds in their natural habitats.

This business currently has no presence on Instagram and incorporating it into its social media strategy will aid in increased discoverability, higher engagement rates and increased earnings.

Expand E-commerce Offerings:

This business' choice to opt for an e-commerce store is a brilliant way to increase its revenue stream, however, it faces the challenge of competing with Amazon products.

Since this site is monetized with the Amazon affiliate network, products featured on its e-commerce store are also often found in its Amazon affiliate link. This has led to the business taking a step back from running its e-commerce store.

A great way to tackle this issue is to offer exclusive products from the brand that can be shopped only on its e-commerce store. Products like customised birding gear, unique birding art and photographs, and even reservations for top-notch birding tours and experiences can be sold on its storefront.

By offering unique and specialized products, this birding blog's e-commerce site can differentiate itself from Amazon and appeal to its niche audience of birding enthusiasts.

The Big Reveal 👀

The exceptional enterprise under the spotlight in this week's analysis is Bird Watching HQ! established by Scott Keller.

Scott had a high-paying job in the Insurance industry but was gaining little satisfaction from it so he decided to start blogging as a side hustle back in 2016. He focused on recommending high-ticket affiliate products on his website and eventually opted for binoculars

His target audience for binoculars were basically hunters and bird watchers and since he had a passion for bird-watching, he came up with the idea to write binocular reviews for bird watchers. This is how Bird Watching HQ was born.

In a birding niche dominated by personal and journal blogs, he made his blog stand out by creating educative, reader-focused content backed up by keyword research and SEO best practices.

He went from writing about just binoculars to using live cam feeds, clever lead magnets and great content to create some of the best resources on birds, animals and nature that can be found on the internet.

The Takeaway, What We Learned 🎓

Let's review the important and actionable key points from this week's evaluation:

  • Niche passion is essential for building a successful and sustainable online business. By focusing on a specific niche, you can establish yourself as an expert in that area. Also, when you are passionate about a particular niche, it shows in the content you create, and it resonates with your target audience.
  • Without Keyword research and SEO, you will be unable to identify relevant keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for and optimize your website accordingly.
  • Effective SEO practices, such as on-page optimization and link building, can help to establish your website as a credible and authoritative source of information in your niche.
  • Opting for an audience-focused approach influences the creation of content that is relevant, engaging, and valuable. Focusing on the needs and preferences of your target audience helps to satisfy their search intent and build a loyal following.
  • In a crowded online marketplace, a strong USP (Unique selling proposition) can help you to stand out and attract more customers. It is important to identify yours and communicate it strongly to your audience as this can set you apart from competitors, help to establish your brand identity, build trust with customers, and increase sales.
  • Improve traffic, direct engagement with your audience, visibility, and targeted marketing by maximizing social media and email marketing.

Action Steps, From Day 0 To ∞👩‍💻

So, you will have your own website, hosting account, and a good grasp of digital marketing fundamentals if you are a student/graduate of Max Business School.

If not, get started here, it’s totally free and will teach you all the skills you need to build yourself a business (and the freedom it provides you) similar to the one we’ve analyzed today.

Day 0

You’ve read this email and love this particular business model and/or niche.

If not, we'll be sending more ideas in our next email or check our archive here.

If yes;

Consider if this is a business you can happily commit to for 3-5 years.

If yes;

Is it a customer/topic/day-to-day activity you can get passionate about?

If yes;

Would starting this business cause you to lose focus on the business that you are currently building?

If yes, don’t do it.

Focus on building what you have and take lessons from my analysis above to implement them into your current business.

But if not, then move to day 1.

Day 1

  • When starting an affiliate blog, the primary consideration should be selecting a specific niche that you have a passion for and ensuring that it has a viable market with demand. Google Trends is a free tool that can help you identify popular niches and industry insights.
  • The next important thing to do is carry out extensive research. Three things to start with include:
    • Your target audience
    • Competition
    • Affiliate networks.
  • You need to identify your target audience, their needs, preferences, pain points, and buying behaviour. You also need to identify your competition and the affiliate networks that you will use to monetize your blog. Ahrefs is a great tool to analyze your competition.
  • Put together a comprehensive business plan. This should feature your business overview and summary—including results from your research. It should show your USP, marketing strategy, operations plan, financial projections, risk management and timelines.
  • While it may not start out as a 7 figure business, a business plan creates a roadmap for long-term success. It also helps to identify potential challenges and measure success over time.
  • Choose a name for your business and register a domain name for your website. It helps to make your business name and domain name the same. They should be relevant to your niche and easy to remember. You can easily get web hosting and a domain name in this DreamHost offer.
  • Create your website using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. You can do this even as a complete beginner with help from Module 1 of our course. You can also get the digital marketing skills you need to run this business here. Use a responsive theme that is easy to customize and optimized for search engines.

Day 2

  • Create high-quality content: Once your website is up and running, you need to create high-quality content that is backed up by keyword research and provides value to your audience. This can include blog posts, product reviews, how-to guides, and more. Your content should be engaging, informative, and optimized for search engines.
  • Ahrefs is a great tool for keyword research and Outranking is a leading AI tool for writing website copy.
  • Join affiliate networks that you identified from the research on day 1. Choose networks that have relevant, high-quality products, and offer good commissions. Include your affiliate link in your content headings, CTAs and even images. Be creative with it so that readers don't skim over your links.
  • Optimize your website for SEO to attract organic traffic to your affiliate blog. Adopt on-page SEO practices like;
    • Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions with relevant keywords
    • Using header tags (H1, H2, H3) to structure content and improve readability
    • Including internal links to other relevant pages on your website
  • Adopt off-page SEO practices such as;
    • Building high-quality backlinks from other relevant websites
    • Online reputation management to monitor and improve your brand's reputation online
    • Guest blogging on other authoritative websites to increase your brand's visibility and authority
  • Set up analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor your website's performance and monitor results.
  • Promote your blog using social media marketing, email marketing, influencer outreach, and more. You should also focus on building your email list and engaging with your audience to build relationships and trust. Mailrelay is a good tool for email marketing.

Day 3 to ∞

  • Consistency is key: To maintain consistency and scale your affiliate blog, you need to consistently publish high-quality content that provides value to your target audience
  • Optimize your opt-in forms and lead magnets for your email list. Birdwatching HQ uses a tool called Interact to create the quiz pop-up used for email leads. Provide value to your subscribers through regular email newsletters.
  • With increased traffic, your RPM may increase, making it easy to earn from display ads. Set up a Google AdSense account, submit your website for approval, and place an AdSense ad code on your website. Optimize your website for ad placement, set a competitive price for ad space and monitor your earnings.
  • Optimize your website for conversions: Increase the conversion rates of your affiliate blog by improving your website's load time, creating clear calls-to-action, and consistently applying SEO best practices.
  • Regularly track and monitor your results to ensure the success of your affiliate blog. This includes tracking your website's traffic, engagement, and conversion rates. Use the Google Analytics and Search console tools you set up on day 2 to gather this data.
  • Continuously improve and optimize: To scale your affiliate blog, you need to continuously improve and optimize your strategies and tactics. This includes testing different content formats, experimenting with new marketing channels, and adjusting your strategies based on your analytics.

Explore these incredible tools that can assist in scaling your business.

Before You Go 👋

Thank you for reading.

In my next email, I’ll have another business breakdown for you. 

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Bye for now,

Scott Max

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