Melissa Palmer on Running 22+ Content Sites and Making a Full-Time Living

Last updated: Jun 30, 2023

This video is about an interview with Melissa Palmer, who runs over 22 content sites and makes a full-time living from them, discussing her process, monetization strategies, and thoughts on the future of AI in search engine results pages.

This video by Niche Website Builders was published on May 2, 2023.
Video length: 01:00:10.

This video is an interview with Melissa Palmer, who runs over 22 content sites and makes a full-time living from them.

The video discusses her process for managing and updating content, her thoughts on the future of AI in search engine results pages (SERPs), and her monetization strategies. They also discuss the pros and cons of focusing on one or two sites versus having a range of sites.

Melissa shares her background in technology and how she got started with websites, as well as her decision to leave her corporate job to focus on her websites full-time.

  • Melissa Palmer started with websites in 2014 and got serious about it.
  • Her first successful website was a tech-based one.
  • She took Doug Cunnington's course and started building niche sites.
  • She left her corporate job in July 2022 to focus on websites full-time.
  • Melissa currently has around 22 or 23 websites.
  • She has a few big ones that bring in good income.
  • She has around 5 to 6 active sites that she is actively working on.
  • Melissa discusses her process for updating and maintaining content on her sites.
  • Melissa aims to continue building and growing her portfolio of websites.

Melissa Palmer on Running 22+ Content Sites and Making a Full-Time Living - YouTube

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Background and Introduction

  • Melissa Palmer started with websites in 2014 and got serious about it.
  • Her first successful website was a tech-based one.
  • She took Doug Cunnington's course and started building niche sites.
  • She left her corporate job in July 2022 to focus on websites full-time.
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Number of Sites

  • Melissa currently has around 22 or 23 websites.
  • She has a few big ones that bring in good income.
  • She has around 5 to 6 active sites that she is actively working on.
  • The other sites bring in some income but are more for experimentation.
  • Melissa got hooked on SEO in 2014.
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Process and Strategies

  • Melissa discusses her process for updating and maintaining content on her sites.
  • She talks about her thoughts on the future of AI in search engine results pages.
  • She shares her monetization strategies for her sites.
  • Melissa discusses her overall process for building and writing content for her sites.
  • She talks about the benefits and drawbacks of focusing on one or two sites versus having a range of sites.
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Melissa Palmer on Running 22+ Content Sites and Making a Full-Time Living - YouTube

Future Plans and Goals

  • Melissa aims to continue building and growing her portfolio of websites.
  • She wants to help others achieve success with their own websites.
  • She is focused on achieving financial freedom and the freedom to do what she loves.
  • Melissa is passionate about SEO and enjoys experimenting with different strategies.
  • She is driven by the desire to make a full-time living from her websites.
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Experimenting with Different Niches and Content

  • The speaker likes to try different things and experiment with websites.
  • They start a website, add 50 posts, and leave it for six months to see what happens.
  • They then go back and optimize the content and add more.
  • Most of the 22+ sites they run are in completely different niches.
  • They have a couple of food blogs, but the rest are in various niches.
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Using AI for Content Creation

  • The speaker uses AI to get ideas for content.
  • They use AI to generate ideas for side dishes for a food blog.
  • They use AI to get ideas for popular chicken recipes in the summer.
  • They use AI tools like Jasper and Chat GPT for generating ideas.
  • They believe that AI is good for generating ideas, but heavy editing is required for the final content.
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The Editing Process for AI-Generated Content

  • The speaker starts by reading the AI-generated article from beginning to end.
  • They make changes to sentences and rephrase things to make the content flow better.
  • They find that the introductions and conclusions from AI are weak, so they write them themselves.
  • They remove unnecessary phrases and sentences that AI tends to repeat.
  • They do not trust AI for going after featured snippets and prefer to write those themselves.
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Using AI for Answer Target Paragraphs

  • The speaker feeds AI the prompt and headings to get a semi-good answer target paragraph.
  • They use this paragraph as the featured snippet in their posts.
  • They have been experimenting with this tactic on an old website.
  • They find that AI can provide a good starting point for answer target paragraphs.
  • They still do heavy editing to ensure the content is valuable and makes sense to readers.
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Monetization Strategies

  • Realizing the need to monetize sites better after going full-time.
  • Display ads were fine, but affiliate and digital product links were lacking.
  • Realizing the top 10 posts had no affiliate links and needed to be fixed.
  • Transitioning from a hobby mindset to a business mindset.
  • Importance of discussing monetization from the beginning.
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Traffic and Content of First Site

  • First site started in 2014 and is still running with ads.
  • Realization of being under monetized after going full-time.
  • Site has around 30,000 pages and brings in consistent income.
  • Not as actively worked on compared to other sites.
  • Survived a Google update and continues to generate income.
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Traffic and Content of Biggest Site

  • Biggest site has around 150,000 page views.
  • Focus on building a portfolio of sites rather than relying on a single site.
  • Previous experience with affiliate sites that were hit by Google updates.
  • Preference for smaller sites to minimize risk.
  • Consideration of risk and background in technology when deciding on site size.
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Buying and Building Sites

  • Combination of buying and building sites.
  • Biggest site was bought and has around a thousand posts.
  • Emphasis on updating content regularly.
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Content Optimization and Traffic Growth

  • Melissa focuses on updating and optimizing old content on her sites to increase organic traffic.
  • She doubles the organic traffic of her first site within six months by updating old content.
  • She regularly goes back to all of her sites to optimize the content.
  • When she buys a new site, the first thing she does is run it through her content optimization protocol.
  • Google seems to like it when she gives more information on a topic that aligns with what Google thinks the blog post is about.
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Monetization Strategies

  • Melissa has a variety of sites with different monetization strategies.
  • Some sites have display ads, while others are monetized with affiliate marketing.
  • She has low-traffic sites with quality content that convert well with natural types of reviews.
  • She calculates the revenue per thousand page views (RPM) and determines whether to include display ads based on the affiliate sales.
  • The purpose of each site determines the monetization strategy she uses.
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Different Strategies for Different Sites

  • Melissa has sites with different ranges of traffic and uses different strategies based on the intent of the site.
  • She emphasizes that it's not always just about traffic, but also about the niche, the difficulty of convincing someone to buy a product, and other factors.
  • She has sites with natural reviews that lead readers to products through how-to content.
  • She gives examples of using chicken recipes and chainsaws to explain how she adds relevant information and links to products in her articles.
  • Whether she writes a full product review depends on the competitiveness and cost of the product.
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Tracking Content Performance

  • Melissa uses Google Data Studio (now Looker Studio) to track the performance of her content.
  • She builds filters and dashboards to monitor impressions, clicks, and traffic sources for specific groups of posts.
  • By analyzing the data over time, she can estimate how long it takes for certain types of content to start generating decent traffic.
  • She has noticed that it now takes around three to five months for new content to gain traction on her sites.
  • She mentions the transition to GA4 (Google Analytics 4) and her intention to explore it with Data Studio.
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Content Optimization

  • Content optimization is often neglected by many people.
  • Editing someone else's writing style can be challenging when buying a site.
  • Personal preference plays a role in deciding whether to buy a site or not.
  • Using tools like Dado Studio can help track the results of content updates.
  • Batching tasks, such as keyword research and content updates, can make the process more efficient.
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The Work and Grind of Blogging

  • Blogging is not easy and requires a lot of work.
  • Results may not come as quickly as desired, but consistency and effort are key.
  • Many people underestimate the amount of work involved in blogging.
  • It can feel like a constant cycle of creating and updating content.
  • Diversification of traffic and income through platforms like YouTube can be beneficial.
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Getting Started with YouTube

  • Starting with the lowest amount of work possible can help ease into YouTube.
  • Recording videos on a phone and doing one-take recordings can save time.
  • Utilizing tools like a whiteboard or podcast format can simplify the process.
  • Consistency is important, even if it means starting with a lower frequency of videos.
  • Finding ways to make the setup and editing process less time-consuming is key.
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Content Optimization

  • Melissa runs her content through tools like Search Console and Ahrefs to see what questions are coming up and what she can add or modify in her content.
  • She uses Keysearch, a paid SEO tool, to save time and improve her keyword research.
  • She does competitive research to see what others are doing and make her content better.
  • She sometimes realizes that she aimed for the wrong keyword and makes changes accordingly.
  • She adds more content to her posts if she sees that someone has copied her content and she wants to regain her ranking.
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Competition and Niche Domination

  • Melissa believes that the competition in the blogging world has increased, possibly due to the pandemic and people looking for new opportunities.
  • She mentions that she has considered dominating a niche by running multiple sites within the same niche, but she hasn't done it yet.
  • She has started building out little networks of sites to dominate certain keywords and has achieved top rankings for some keywords.
  • She discusses the idea of creating an AI-generated site within a niche as an interesting experiment to see how it performs in search rankings.
  • She mentions the possibility of outranking herself if she were to create an AI-generated site within her niche.
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Monetization Strategies

  • Melissa primarily monetizes her sites through display ads and affiliate marketing.
  • She mentions that she has experimented with other monetization methods like sponsored posts and selling digital products, but display ads and affiliate marketing have been the most successful for her.
  • She emphasizes the importance of diversifying income streams and not relying solely on one method of monetization.
  • She advises new bloggers to focus on building traffic and growing their audience before worrying too much about monetization.
  • She believes that having multiple sites allows her to diversify her income and not rely on just one site for her full-time income.
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Thoughts on the Future of AI in Search Results

  • Melissa finds the idea of AI-generated content and sites intriguing and believes it could be a future trend in search engine results.
  • She mentions the possibility of AI-generated sites being able to outrank human-created sites in the future.
  • She sees potential in using AI to generate content for certain niches and keywords, but also acknowledges the importance of human expertise and quality in content creation.
  • She believes that AI can be a useful tool for content creators, but it should not replace the human element entirely.
  • She expresses interest in experimenting with AI-generated content within her own niche to see how it performs in search rankings.
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Monetization strategies

  • Swapping out affiliate links to increase revenue instantly.
  • Private affiliate deals can help increase affiliate rates.
  • Monetizing sites with display ads for passive income.
  • Updating and publishing content regularly.
  • Using social media to promote sites.
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Juggling multiple sites

  • Switching between sites based on personal interest and motivation.
  • Setting goals for the week and deciding which sites to work on.
  • Allowing flexibility to pivot and work on trending topics or news.
  • Being the master of your own destiny and having the freedom to choose what to work on.
  • Going down internet rabbit holes and exploring new topics of interest.
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Using AI in content creation

  • Using AI for background tasks like creating Pinterest pins.
  • Not comfortable using AI for certain niches like food blogs where the visuals need to match the recipe.
  • AI can be useful for generating images and content for certain purposes.
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Work-life balance and flexibility

  • Having the freedom to work on what you want and when you want.
  • Being able to switch between sites and topics based on personal interest and motivation.
  • Setting goals and priorities for the week, but also allowing flexibility to explore new opportunities.
  • Enjoying the benefits of passive income while still putting in the necessary work to maintain and grow the sites.
  • Taking advantage of the flexibility to adapt to trends and changes in the industry.
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Content Creation and AI

  • Alt text and AI image generation can be used to find relevant images for niche websites.
  • Cartoony images or realistic representations are preferred for accurate presentation.
  • Experimenting with AI image generation can be fun and relaxing.
  • AI can be used for brainstorming and generating prompts for content creation.
  • AI search engines like Google's AI search engine and Bing's AI route may change the way websites are monetized.
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Monetization Strategies

  • Display ads are currently the main source of monetization, but other methods are being explored.
  • Affiliate marketing has always been a part of monetization.
  • Creating and selling own products is a focus for the future.
  • It is too early to determine the impact of AI on monetization strategies.
  • Keeping an eye on the evolving AI space and search engine industry is important.
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AI in Search Engines

  • AI search engines are gradually evolving and may not have an immediate impact on the industry.
  • Algorithm updates in Google can sometimes result in incorrect search intent.
  • Google dominates the search engine industry, but AI advancements may provide opportunities for other search engines like Bing.
  • Monitoring the AI space and its impact on search engines is important.
  • No need to panic or worry about the changes yet.
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Content Publishing Strategy

  • Batch content creation is a strategy used to fill out categories or silos within a website.
  • Creating content in batches allows for efficient organization and management.
  • Categories or silos help in structuring the website and improving user experience.
  • Having a content publishing strategy helps in maintaining consistency and quality.
  • Regularly updating and adding new content is important for website growth.
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Content Pillars and Keyword Research

  • Melissa uses the tactic of topical authority or content pillars to exhaust a topic and create a batch of related posts.
  • She does keyword research and organizes her content in groups of five.
  • She color codes her Google sheet to keep track of her batches.
  • She periodically checks in on her keyword research to ensure it is still relevant.
  • Melissa looks at the top 25 posts on her site from Google and writes more content in those successful pillars.
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Balancing SEO and Personal Interest

  • Melissa emphasizes the importance of doing keyword research and writing content that aligns with SEO strategies.
  • She believes in finding a balance between writing for SEO and writing what feels right and serves her readers.
  • While SEO is important, she encourages bloggers to occasionally write posts that are fun and enjoyable.
  • She suggests revisiting and updating posts that didn't perform well initially, as they may have potential with better optimization.
  • Melissa believes in balancing content strategy to avoid getting bored or feeling restricted.
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Internal Linking and Link Whisper

  • Melissa ensures that all the content within a pillar is linked together.
  • She uses the tool Link Whisper to help with internal linking, especially for neglected or newly acquired sites.
  • However, she doesn't blindly follow the tool's recommendations and validates them herself.
  • Melissa believes in understanding the tools she uses and being able to validate their suggestions.
  • She shares her experience of using free keyword research tools for several years before finally investing in a keyword research tool.
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Understanding the Theory of Using Tools

  • It's important to understand the theory behind using tools in digital marketing.
  • Don't blindly follow tool recommendations without understanding their purpose.
  • Understanding the theory helps in becoming a well-rounded blogger and developing your own strategies.
  • Learning this skill is valuable for the long term.
  • There are no shortcuts in building a strong foundation in digital marketing.
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Leveraging Social Media for Site Growth

  • Pinterest is a visual search engine and can be leveraged for site growth.
  • Understanding the Pinterest algorithm and how it works can be beneficial.
  • Other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can also be used, but they may require more time and effort.
  • Automating social media posts can save time and help reach a wider audience.
  • Growing an Instagram account can lead to sponsored posts and monetization opportunities.
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Monetization Strategies and Sponsored Content

  • Sponsored content can be a lucrative way to make money, but it requires time and negotiations.
  • Focus on SEO and content creation before diving into sponsored content.
  • Exploring different monetization strategies, such as sponsored posts, can be beneficial.
  • Consider the potential for sponsored deals on specific sites.
  • Plan to explore sponsored content more in the future.
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Ranking on Pinterest and Understanding User Intent

  • Keyword research is important for ranking on Pinterest.
  • Use Pinterest's Auto suggest feature to get keyword ideas.
  • Consider the search intent of users when creating content for Pinterest.
  • Look at the top-ranking pins for a keyword to understand what kind of content performs well.
  • Differentiate yourself enough to catch someone's eye while still meeting user expectations.
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Using Pinterest for Traffic

  • Experiment with different types of images and see what works best for your account.
  • Look at the search results on Pinterest and learn from what others are doing.
  • Use clear fonts and images that align with what people are searching for.
  • Install a social sharing plugin on your website to encourage pinning.
  • Know your audience and determine if they are active on Pinterest.
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Differences Between Pinterest and Google Traffic

  • Google traffic tends to be slightly higher in terms of RPMs.
  • The percentage of traffic from Pinterest varies depending on the site.
  • One site acquired had 75% Pinterest traffic, but the goal is to optimize it for SEO.
  • It's important to diversify traffic sources to mitigate risk.
  • Some ad networks may prefer a better balance of traffic sources.
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Preferred Ad Networks

  • MediaVine is a popular ad network for many sites.
  • Testing out Zoic for sites in the 10K range and it's performing well so far.
  • Choosing an ad network depends on the stage of your blogging journey and the specific needs of your site.
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Monetization strategies for content sites

  • Ad Thrive requires 50k sessions to join.
  • Ad Thrive also has a second set at 100k sessions.
  • Considering trying Ad Thrive for some sites.
  • Building a portfolio of sites over time.
  • Playing the long game in building a portfolio.
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Benefits of having multiple content sites

  • Having multiple sites allows for more variety and prevents boredom.
  • Working on different projects keeps things interesting.
  • Having a diversified portfolio in different niches.
  • Having more sites is a long-term strategy for building a portfolio.
  • More sites means more opportunities for success.
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Approach to off-page SEO and backlinks

  • Focus on on-page SEO rather than off-page SEO.
  • Not a fan of dealing with backlinks.
  • Weak area in terms of off-page SEO.
  • Would see more results faster if more time was spent on off-page SEO.
  • Prefer to focus on on-page SEO and content creation.
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Where to find Melissa Palmer

  • Website: melismadigital.com
  • YouTube: Melissa Palmer
  • Possibly expanding to Instagram in the future.

Watch the video on YouTube:
Melissa Palmer on Running 22+ Content Sites and Making a Full-Time Living - YouTube

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