How Emil Shour Grew His Agency Profits to $250k in its 2nd Year While Also Growing 3 Niche Sites

Last updated: Jun 30, 2023

This video is about Emil Shour, the founder of Catalyst Content, who shares his experience growing his agency profits to $250k in its second year while also growing three niche sites.

This video by Niche Pursuits was published on Mar 29, 2023.
Video length: 01:04:12.

This video is an interview with Emil Shour, the founder of Catalyst Content, a digital marketing agency.

Emil shares his experience and strategies in growing his agency to $250k in its second year. He also discusses his success in building three niche websites, including one that he bought and revitalized, which is now earning $6-7k per month in revenue.

The video provides insights and tips for freelancers, SEO professionals, and those interested in starting their own agency or niche websites.

  • Emil Shour shares profitability numbers for his digital marketing agency.
  • He discusses the structure and growth of his agency.
  • Emil serves his clients in various roles.
  • Insights on freelancing, working in-house, and running an agency are shared.
  • Valuable advice and tips for starting an agency are provided.
  • Emil started three niche websites at different stages of growth.
  • He shares the story of revitalizing an older site and strategies for building a successful niche site.
  • Emil discusses time management and energy allocation for multiple projects.
  • Takeaways include insights on entrepreneurship, growth potential, and time management techniques.

How Emil Shour Grew His Agency Profits to $250k in its 2nd Year While Also Growing 3 Niche Sites - YouTube

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Emil Shour's Agency

  • Emil shares his profitability numbers for his digital marketing agency.
  • He discusses how he built his agency up and the structure behind it.
  • Emil talks about the way he serves his clients and the different roles he plays.
  • He shares insights on freelancing, working in-house as an SEO, and running your own agency.
  • Emil provides valuable advice and tips for those interested in starting their own agency.
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Emil's Niche Websites

  • Emil started three websites over the last couple of years.
  • Each website is in a different stage of growth and success.
  • He shares the story of how he revitalized an older site that was not publishing content.
  • Emil explains his strategy for adding content and building links to his successful niche site.
  • After just over a year, the site is now earning six to seven thousand dollars a month in revenue.
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Emil's Time Management and Energy Allocation

  • Emil discusses how he manages his time and energy with multiple projects.
  • He shares his system for prioritizing tasks and allocating resources.
  • Emil provides insights on where he puts his energy and how he balances his various endeavors.
  • He offers advice on finding a balance between different projects and maximizing productivity.
  • Emil's approach to time management can be applied to any online business or entrepreneurial venture.
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How Emil Shour Grew His Agency Profits to $250k in its 2nd Year While Also Growing 3 Niche Sites - YouTube

Takeaways and Lessons from Emil

  • Emil's story and experiences offer valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • His success with his agency and niche websites demonstrate the potential for growth and profitability in the online business world.
  • Emil's strategies for building and scaling businesses can be applied to various industries and niches.
  • His advice on freelancing, working in-house, and running an agency provides guidance for those considering different career paths in digital marketing.
  • Emil's time management and energy allocation techniques can help individuals optimize their productivity and achieve their goals.
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Background and Starting the Agency

  • The founder of Catalyst Content, Emil Shour, has a professional marketing background and worked in marketing for over eight years.
  • He has experience in demand generation, with a focus on SEO.
  • Emil saw a gap in the market for SEO agencies that provided a high-quality service.
  • He decided to start his own agency two years ago, leveraging his expertise in SEO.
  • Client acquisition was the biggest challenge when starting the agency.
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Building a Client Base

  • Emil reached out to current clients, friends, and his network of marketers to find clients.
  • Referrals from people in his network helped him build a small client base.
  • Having a good relationship with his previous employer, Emil was able to retain them as a client when he started his agency.
  • Having knowledge of the systems and company he previously worked for made the transition smooth.
  • Building relationships and networking were key factors in acquiring clients.
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Challenges of Starting a Business

  • Starting a business comes with different challenges at each stage.
  • Client acquisition is particularly difficult in the beginning.
  • Emil had a good operational mindset from his previous experience, which helped with other aspects of starting the agency.
  • Navigating challenges such as finding clients, setting up systems, and finding people to work with required a strategic approach.
  • Emil's previous success in his role at his previous company helped him secure clients and build credibility.
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Transitioning from In-House to Agency

  • Emil had a strong SEO program at his previous company, which he built himself.
  • He pitched the idea of starting an agency to his previous employer and was able to retain them as a client.
  • Having a good relationship with his boss and knowledge of the company's systems made the transition smooth.
  • Continuing to support his previous employer as a client helped Emil establish his agency and gain momentum.
  • Walking out of the company with a good relationship intact and a client base was a key advantage for Emil.
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Agency Structure and Team Organization

  • The agency operates with a contracted team rather than full-time or part-time employees.
  • The main team members are contracted writers, an editor, and someone who handles link building.
  • This structure allows for flexibility in scaling the team up or down as needed.
  • Emil Shour, the founder, handles strategy and project management directly.
  • Clients get to work directly with Emil, rather than being passed off to less experienced team members.
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Drawbacks of the Contracted Model

  • Onboarding new clients can be challenging as finding the right writer for each client's industry and audience can be time-consuming.
  • Scaling the team becomes more difficult as more clients are added.
  • Ramping up new team members requires more effort compared to an in-house team with an established playbook.
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Upsides of In-House SEO

  • Working in-house allows for a deeper understanding of the company's goals and audience.
  • Less stressful onboarding process as there is an established playbook and team structure.
  • Opportunity to focus solely on SEO without the added responsibilities of running an agency.
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Upsides of Running an Agency

  • Greater potential for higher income and growth as an agency owner.
  • Flexibility to work with multiple clients and industries.
  • Opportunity to directly handle strategy and project management.
  • Ability to offer a hybrid model of consulting and agency services.
  • Working directly with clients and building relationships.
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Starting an Agency and the Emotional Challenges

  • As an SEO manager, your earning potential is capped, so starting your own agency allows for higher earning potential.
  • However, running your own agency can be emotionally challenging, with ups and downs in business and questioning your decision.
  • It's an emotional game that requires mastering your mindset.
  • There are constant ups and downs, even within the same week.
  • Working in-house can provide stability and learning opportunities without the risk of running your own agency.
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Growing an Agency and Profit Numbers

  • In its second year, Emil Shour's agency, Catalyst Content, profited around $250k.
  • 2022 was a particularly good year, but this year may not match the same level of success due to economic factors.
  • Consistency in producing high profits is the big challenge.
  • Even a slight downturn from a great year is still considered a success.
  • Building an agency requires continuous effort and adaptability to market conditions.
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Building Niche Websites as a Side Hustle

  • Emil Shour started building niche websites after starting his agency.
  • He had previously invested in rental properties and wanted to build assets that were investments.
  • His agency is not viewed as an asset that can be sold, so he turned to niche websites for that purpose.
  • He was inspired by John Dykstra's blog, Fat Stacks, and realized the potential of building niche websites.
  • Building niche websites allows for passive income and the potential to sell the websites as assets.
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The Relationship Between the Agency and Niche Websites

  • The agency and niche websites are separate entities for Emil Shour.
  • He views the agency as a service-based business, while the niche websites are asset-based businesses.
  • Both require continuous effort and management, but they serve different purposes.
  • The agency provides immediate income, while the niche websites offer long-term potential.
  • Emil Shour's goal is to build a portfolio of niche websites that generate passive income and can be sold in the future.
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Building the First Site

  • Emil had a background in SEO, which gave him an advantage in building his first site.
  • He focused on finding low competition keywords that didn't necessarily require conversion intent.
  • He invested a $5,000 budget into the site, building 40 articles and acquiring 20 links.
  • After letting the site sit for six to seven months, it started gaining traction and increasing in page views.
  • Emil attributes the success to a combination of luck, choosing the right keywords, and having a process in place.
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Outsourcing and Strategy

  • Emil followed a similar approach to his agency by outsourcing the work and leading the strategy.
  • He found writers on Upwork who were knowledgeable about the topic and created briefs for them to follow.
  • Emil focused on keyword research and identifying gaps and unique angles to help the site rank in Google.
  • He outsourced all the actual work, including content creation and link building.
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Current Status of the Site

  • The site, which started in May 2021, is now on autopilot.
  • Emil spends about two hours per month on keyword research and reviewing content.
  • The site generated $1,200 in revenue last month, primarily from display ads and Amazon affiliate earnings.
  • Emil expects similar or slightly higher revenue for the current month.
  • He aims to publish four articles per month, costing around $200-$250, to maintain the site's cash flow.
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Reasons for Moving on from a Site

  • The site wasn't getting any traffic and had reached its growth potential.
  • Emil saw an opportunity to acquire a site with high potential that hadn't been touched in years.
  • The site had a strong foundation with well-done articles.
  • Emil negotiated a partnership deal with the previous owner to acquire the site.
  • Emil believed the new niche had a more affluent audience and better monetization potential.
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Growing the New Site

  • Emil spent time laying the foundation and finding writers who were knowledgeable about the niche.
  • By the end of 2021, the site had 50 articles, and by the end of 2022, it had 350 articles.
  • The site generated $58k in revenue with $34k in expenses, resulting in a $24k profit.
  • Revenue started picking up in the second half of the year as traffic increased.
  • Emil invested heavily in content creation, which contributed to the site's growth.
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Content Takes Time to Gain Traction

  • Buying an aged domain can take time for Google to re-crawl and pick up new content.
  • Even with existing traffic, it took a while for the site to start ranking new articles.
  • In February 2022, the site had 90 articles and 40,000 page views, compared to 30,000 page views the previous year.
  • By February 2023, the site had 360 articles and 172,000 page views.
  • Even with traction, it still took time for the site to rank new content.
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Approach to Content Strategy

  • Started by targeting competitive terms with high search volume.
  • Then focused on long-tail keywords and different clusters within the niche.
  • Wrote articles on low-competition keywords to see how they performed.
  • Targeted different clusters to show authority and rank variations of keywords.
  • Keyword difficulty was not a major concern, focused on sites with low authority ranking for those keywords.
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Using Data for Digital PR

  • Search Intelligence sponsored the video.
  • Search Intelligence used freely available data to find the nation's favorite car brand.
  • They sent an email with the insights to journalists and national news desks.
  • The client got featured in The Sun and regional newspaper sites, gaining 90 links to their website.
  • Using data for PR campaigns can help build exposure and links to client websites.
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Approach to Keyword Research

  • Emil used a hybrid approach to keyword research.
  • He would look at a cluster of keywords and choose the easiest ones to rank for.
  • If he had good authority and Google was ranking him for those keywords, he would go back and cover the rest of the cluster.
  • He focused on low competition keywords with higher volume.
  • He would test to see if he could build up authority in a specific cluster before moving on to others.
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Content Strategy

  • Emil would choose the easiest keywords within a cluster and write content about them first.
  • Over time, he would see what topics his writers were naturally good at and feed them topics within that niche.
  • He would ask his writers about the products they use and have them write reviews for those products.
  • His content strategy evolved as he gained more writers and experience in the niche.
  • He focused on building authority and expertise in specific clusters.
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Website Performance

  • Emil's website has an average revenue of $3,600 to $7,000 per month.
  • Two-thirds of the revenue comes from ads, while one-third comes from affiliate marketing.
  • He uses AdThrive for ads and has a direct affiliate partnership with one company.
  • He puts ads on his affiliate articles to increase conversion rates.
  • He worked with AdThrive to create a layout structure for affiliate ads that provides a better user experience.
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Site Value

  • Based on a rough estimate, Emil's website is worth around $250,000.
  • He has achieved this value in just over a year.
  • He acknowledges that starting a fresh site would require more time and effort to reach the same level of success.
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Emil's Lucky Find

  • Emil found an aged site that was worth around $35,000 to $50,000.
  • The site had a lot of opportunity and potential for growth.
  • Emil believes it's hard to find a good aged site, but when you do, there is a lot of potential.
  • The site had good content and was an authority in its niche.
  • Emil believes it's better to find a site that has been neglected but still has potential, rather than picking up an age domain that hasn't been active.
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Importance of Finding a Site with Authority

  • Emil's successful site had a true authority in Google's eyes.
  • Google liked the site because it had good content and was getting traffic.
  • Emil would be hesitant to pick up an age domain that hasn't been active and try to revive it.
  • It's important to find a site that someone has put a lot of love and attention into, but no longer has time for.
  • Finding a site with authority is like finding a needle in a haystack.
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How to Find Similar Sites

  • Emil got lucky with his find, but suggests looking in Facebook groups or other communities where people may be looking to sell their sites.
  • There are dark communities where people find good deals on sites that have been neglected.
  • Marketplaces can also be a source for finding sites, but there is more competition and people who know the value of the site.
  • Building a network and asking if anyone is interested in selling their site can also lead to good opportunities.
  • Some people have had success with Twitter, posting that they are looking to acquire a site and listing the criteria they are looking for.
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The Benefits of Acquiring a Site with Existing Content

  • Acquiring a site with existing content allows you to benefit from the previous owner's hard work and love for the site.
  • You can pay the previous owner to continue writing for the site, while you focus on growing it.
  • This type of acquisition is like an "aqua hire" where you get the best of both worlds.
  • Starting a fresh site on a new domain takes time and patience, while buying an age domain can be a gamble and a waiting game.
  • Finding a site with good content and under-monetization can lead to a great deal.
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Content and Luck

  • Emil feels lucky to have found the right opportunity and knew the person who owned it.
  • He considers his agency as his main focus and the niche sites as a side hustle.
  • Emil poured a lot of money into the niche sites without seeing any results for the first few months.
  • After four to five months, the niche sites started breaking even to cover the content costs.
  • Emil acknowledges the mental anguish of investing in the sites without immediate returns.
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Link Building

  • Emil used a VA in the Philippines to build links for the niche sites.
  • The links were niche edits and not of amazing quality, but they served the purpose.
  • Emil made sure the sites had some organic traffic to avoid gaming metrics like Ahrefs.
  • He invested most of his money into content initially and later spent $5,000 on a digital PR campaign for link building.
  • The PR campaign resulted in syndicated links and original pickups from reputable publications.
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SEO Strategy

  • Emil focused on SEO as his main strategy and did not prioritize diversification through email or social channels.
  • He believed in being really good at one thing rather than spreading himself thin.
  • Emil considered content and links as his SEO moat.
  • He invested in link building because he saw the value of strong links in weathering storms in the long term.
  • Emil's approach to link building may differ from other niche website builders.
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Building a Moat

  • Emil prioritized building a moat for his niche sites while still focusing on content and traffic.
  • He invested in a digital PR campaign to acquire syndicated links and original pickups from authoritative publications.
  • Emil believes that having strong links helps in weathering storms in the long term.
  • He considers link building as an important aspect of building a successful niche site.
  • Emil's approach to building a moat may differ from other niche website builders.
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Building a Brand vs Niche Sites

  • Niche sites get hit harder in updates than brand sites.
  • Building a brand in search means getting good quality links and publications talking about the site.
  • Investing in good quality links is never a bad thing for niche sites.
  • Emil applies the brand-building strategy to his niche sites.
  • He invests in good quality links and sees it as a long-term investment.
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Starting a Third Site

  • Emil started a third site in the parenting niche.
  • Many people avoid parenting or mommy blogs, but Emil takes an SEO-driven approach.
  • He outsources content to writers who have expertise in the industry.
  • Emil invested around $5-6k in the third site, with 50-60 articles and 20 backlinks.
  • The site is currently in the early stages of development.
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Emil Shour's Experience Growing His Agency Profits

  • Emil Shour grew his agency profits to $250k in its second year.
  • He faced challenges in the industry, which is different from any other.
  • He considered selling one of his niche sites if it didn't perform well.
  • He plans to continue investing in his agency and the three niche sites.
  • He likes the balance of having both the agency and the niche sites.
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Plans for 2023 and Beyond

  • Emil expects a potential downturn in 2023 due to the global economy.
  • He will focus on optimizing and improving existing content on his main site.
  • He wants to ensure that the site is monetized effectively.
  • He is open to exploring different options and seeing where they take him.
  • He believes his main site still has a lot of potential.
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Starting a Podcast

  • Emil started a podcast called "Seeking Profit" with Andrew Diebert.
  • The podcast focuses on internal operations and sharing their own business experiences.
  • They discuss topics such as finding writers and creating content briefs.
  • They also share insights from big sites that Andrew encounters through his clients.
  • The podcast provides an introspective look into their businesses.
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Connect with Emil Shour

  • Emil is active on Twitter with the handle @EmilShour.
  • His Twitter handle is spelled as e-m-i-l-s-h-o-u-r.
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Emil Shour's Success in Growing His Agency Profits and Niche Sites

  • Emil Shour grew his agency profits to $250k in its second year.
  • He also successfully grew three niche sites.
  • Emil discusses his experience and strategies for achieving this growth.
  • He emphasizes the importance of prioritizing and focusing on the right tasks at the right time.
  • Emil's success is attributed to his ability to juggle multiple projects and prioritize effectively.
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Niche Pursuits YouTube Channel as a Resource

  • Niche Pursuits YouTube Channel provides niche business ideas.
  • It offers online business tips and strategies.
  • The channel covers various topics related to niche websites.
  • Emil Shour's interview is just one example of the valuable content available on the channel.
  • The channel is a valuable resource for anyone interested in starting or growing a niche business.

Watch the video on YouTube:
How Emil Shour Grew His Agency Profits to $250k in its 2nd Year While Also Growing 3 Niche Sites - YouTube

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