Today’s guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast is former Penny Hoarder executive and successful business owner Alexis Grant.
Alexis started her career in journalism and launched her first business, a content marketing agency, in 2010. A short while later, the agency got acquired by the personal finance brand ‘The Penny Hoarder (yes, that one), where she became the 3rd employee responsible for content operations.
During the chat, Alexis shares her thoughts on how her journalism background has helped her content writing. In addition, she talks about going from a flat newspaper writing tone to one that’s more suited to the online space.
Alexis tells Jarod (our host) about a side project she had in the background. As a result of leaving ‘The Penny Hoarder’ in 2019 and now armed with more time, Alexis dusted it off and concentrated on improving it.
The ‘Write Life’ (the project), was a blog for writers. She talks about what she did to get it to rank better in the search engines and how she increased traffic by around 80% to 460k pageviews a month.
Finally, we talk about her current website, ‘They Got Acquired.’
Alexis talks about how it came about, what the website does and how you can benefit from the site.
Other things discussed during the interview:
- The story behind the ‘Penny Hoarder’ purchasing her agency
- Growth strategies
- Headlines and why they’re so important
- Her thoughts on having a separate person publish the articles to WordPress — not the writers
- Scaling content and strategies used at The Penny Hoarder
- Creating checklists for the content team
- Training your team
- SEO tactics
- Updating old content
- Why she left the Penny Hoarder
- Repurposing, redirecting, and combining content after an audit
Alexis has a wealth of experience, knowledge, and expertise. She has worked for one of the most significant websites around and built up successful businesses — it’s a pleasure to hear her story.
As always, sit back, enjoy and take notes.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST INTERVIEW:
Watch the full interview:
Read the full transcription:
Jared: Welcome to the niche pursuits podcast today, we have Alexis Grant with us from “They got acquired” which we’re going to talk a lot about, but before we dive in Alexis, welcome to the.
Alexis: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Jared: Yeah. This one’s gonna be really fun. I, you have a wonderful, you made it easy to prepare an agenda for today’s today’s interview.
You know, it was so many things to look at it. So many things to talk about and so many different successes and use cases that you have along the way. I don’t want to bury the lead, but why don’t you bring us up to date on some of your past and your work experience and your career and, and how you’ve how you’ve gotten to, where you’ve gotten
Alexis: Sure. Yeah. I’ve documented along a lot along the way. Cause I’ve been blogging since like 2008 and I still try to make time for that now, especially when there’s like a big milestone that I know I want to look back at a year or two years from now. And it’s also really helpful to like, be able to send someone, someone like.
A link to something that says, oh, this is how I did it. And, and, and you can get a really good insight that way. So my background, yeah, I got my career in I started my career in journalism. I was at the Houston Chronicle and then U S news. And. Around 2010. I started, it was the first business. I started my own business.
It was a content marketing agency and I kinda got bit by the bug of like, I just really enjoyed running my own business, which I hadn’t expected. Like I never expected to do that. And I think what, what happened there first was I was. I released an ebook and just saw how that worked. That was like my first foray into it.
And then ended up growing a content marketing agency. We ran blogs for other businesses. That company was acquired by a personal finance brand called the penny hoarder. So I went in-house at the penny hoarder as a third employee and I built the content operations. And then in 2019, I left that job, partly because we were living in Florida with my family.
We wanted to get back to an area where we could be closer to trails and mountains. And just, I was just really interested in running my own business again. So I I’ve done two things since then. I first I picked up a site that I had started previously, which we can talk about called the right life is a content site for writers the right life.
W R I T E. So I picked that up. When I left the penny hoarder, it had been kind of. On autopilot while I was there because I didn’t have much time to work on it, but I picked it up mostly for fun. Cause I wanted to play with it. I really got into the SEO of that site at that point in time, which I know a lot of your audience would appreciate.
And I ended up selling that site last year, so about a year ago and I did that largely to really free up my time so I could pick up a new project. Cause I felt like. That site. I started that site in 2013. I was kind of just tired of it and wanted to try something new. So let’s see about six months ago I started working on a new brand called they got acquired and that’s what I’m running now.
And it’s a media site. And the cool thing is I get to use my media skills from, you know, that’s kinda my background and what I’m, what I’m good at, but I’m applying it to a new niche. Company acquisitions. So I’m taking a pain point that I had when I went through my own two sales and trying to teach people what they need to know for their first sale.
Jared: Oh, okay. My only concern is that we’re not going to keep this to under an hour. I feel like I could get asked so many questions. What an awesome story. He glossed over the penny hoarder as though it’s just some some name. No, one’s heard of it. It’s like a emblematic name in certainly the website creation space and the content space side.
Just congratulations on all your success. I think it’s worth pausing and just what a storied background you have. It’s, it’s a real treat to have, you know,
Thanks. It’s fun
to talk about it. Yeah. So going back to journalism, I’m curious, because I think most of the people who are website creators, who are content creators, who write on and publish, you know, who published content, they don’t have a journalism background.
I’m just, I maybe wanted to kick off by asking. What things did you learn from your journalism background or what experiences from journalism do you think were the most influential and being successful as a content creator? Going forward with your own projects and your own websites
Alexis: so much, honestly, it was such an applicable applicable degree.
Cause I, I went, I got a liberal arts degree for undergrad, which is really not specific. And then I went to J school for grad school. So that’s something I could actually use in the world and yeah, it’s, it’s just a really applicable education for one. It helps me think through. The ethics around sharing content.
And I actually think that that’s something that I bring to a lot of media businesses that not everyone is thinking about necessarily who’s growing a media business, especially if they come from the media side or come from the business side and they don’t know media. So it’s always really top of mind for me to think about how can we stick to high standards in terms of efficacy.
Things simple. Like I’m always attributing. If you hear something and you want to, you want to reshare it, where did you hear it from? And linking back to that person so that the credit goes to the right place, but also your cover your own back. Cause you’re, you’re repeating this fact that someone else had collected.
When you can see if someone wants an example of that, we do that really heavily on. They got acquired it also. Well, I can tell you one thing that it didn’t help me with, which is a lot of journalists. Right in a really boring voice. And so it’s been interesting for me because I love working with journalists, but I find it’s a real mind shift for a lot of us to shift from like writing a news leads, into making something interesting and fun that people want to read on the web.
Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. So sometimes, and I’ve heard a lot of people who run media businesses say it’s actually better to hire writers who are not, who don’t have a journalism background because they, they are a little more creative in their writing. I tend to look for people who have kind of, kind of both a mix of both.
But sometimes they’re hard to.
Jared: That’s an interesting point because I feel like I, when I, I’m not a journalism background to say the least, but if I’m writing a piece of content, I will often look to a more journalistic source for headline examples and inspiration, because I feel like people in news do such a good job.
Captivating headlines. And so it’s interesting to hear you talk about the juxtaposition of maybe the, the actual writing itself might be a little flatter than someone who doesn’t have that journalism
Alexis: background. Even the headlines too, is like, I think headlines are really an art and a lot of writers that are great at writing articles.
They, they aren’t great at writing headlines and, you know, newspapers, even when I was in 2005, when I was at a newspaper, the, the, the writer didn’t write the headline. It was like the writer writes the story and then the editor writes the headline or somebody else who is that.
Jared: That makes all the sense in the world, but I never knew that.
Alexis: Yeah. So it was a big shift, I think, for a lot of journalists to come into this world where, like, not only do you have to write a headline, but you also have to do. Kind of catchy.
Jared: Yes. I think in SEO, you know, certainly when you’re writing an article, that’s maybe you bend more towards the SEO focus, these, the search optimized focus.
I mean, I’m guilty of it, but you tend to just say, oh, that’s the title. Let’s see. And let’s just make it the main keyword, you know, and it falls flat maybe. Or do you think that that’s a good
Alexis: strategy for all the sites I’ve ever run? We always have two T two headlines. There’s one headline. That’s going to show on the website and there’s one headline.
That’s gonna show to search it. And obviously there are sort of similar because you don’t want someone to click on something and search and then be disappointed when they get to the actual article. But I think even if there’s a tiny percentage of people who feel that way, it’s still beneficial to have like a really catchy headline.
I call it catchy. That’s kind of like a. I’m sure. There’s lots of good ways to, to describe it, but like literally I’ll call it. What’s the catchy headline and that’s the headline that goes on the homepage and it goes on social media. At sometimes you want to have a different headline for different social channels, but if you’re trying to keep it simple, you might use that same catchy one from the headline for social channels and then a different one.
Jared: smart. That’s great. That’s great. We’ll talk about the process of being a part of penny hoarder from basically the ground up. I mean, you said you were employed two or three. What were your roles there and, and, and kinda how long were you there? What were you responsible for while you were helping that brand?
Alexis: So, well, I started working with Kyle a founder in 2014. He was actually a client of my content agency. So we were delivering, we were doing the content for the site before he acquired my company. And that’s, that’s what led to that. Like, we served lots of clients, but he like a year ago. And to us working together was one, he ended up buying my company so that we could all myself and a number of people from my team, we all went into the company.
It was an acqui-hire. So that’s when they take the team, you will get into the company. So we could focus purely on growing the penny hoarder. So we let go of all of our other clients and didn’t do that anymore. So yeah, my, my role really changed throughout the years there. I mean, initially. Almost the entire time.
I was really focused on growing the team and putting together, like I have a very operations focused mine. So I got to put together a lot of the infrastructure for hiring and, and growing the content team in a sustainable way. But then also putting in place the infrastructure for the actual content.
So like, what are the systems are creating content? How do we make it? How do we distribute it? How does the engine work and how do we keep doing that? When we keep adding more people.
Jared: What are some of the, what are some tips you might be able to share for people who are struggling with you know, content production at scale?
I’m sure there’s scale. Maybe it, depending on order might be a little different than the scale that an individual site owner might have. But in the last, I wonder how many of the operations that you talked, you mentioned operationally focused that you are like, what are some techniques or some tips you can give to people that would help them with, with scaling
Yeah, I think no matter whether you have a few posts a week or a lot of posts a week, you want to have a system for getting those posts through the pipeline. So four, they got acquired right now, for example, we’re only aiming for about three to five posts. It’s a starting point, but we still have a really solid, what I call it as is the editing or the content queue.
So what happens is, is, you know, the piece of content that goes into the queue someone writes it, then the status changes to ready for editing. Then it changes. Maybe it has to go back to the editor or back to the writer for edits then back to the editor. And then what happens there next is, you know, it’s ready for WordPress.
It’s published. It needs to go to the newsletter. So having a really solid list of what’s every step that each piece of content has to go through and, and moving each piece through that pipeline, that way nothing gets through.
Jared: Let me ask you your personal opinion on this. Do you think it’s better to have?
Cause we’ve interviewed people on the podcast of late who have very segmented roles, so they’re writers, right. And they just write their editors edit. They just edit. They even have publishers who just format. Add images and internal links and external links and publish articles. They have, they have people, they have graphic design, maybe somebody who does a graphic design for it.
So they have very segmented roles. And again, this could apply all way down to a very small business. Right. We’ve also had people who we’ve interviewed recently. Give the full responsibility of the research of the writing of the editing of the formatting, of the publishing of everything to kind of one individual and let them be autonomous.
What do you think is is the better approach? Is there a better approach?
Alexis: I think they can both work and there pros and cons to each as you scale though, you want to have more specialized roles. So like for the right life In the year before I sold it even may, many years before I sold it, I had a managing editor who wasn’t, you know, everyone says, when you say editor an editor, isn’t just in charge of editing, even at a big publication, they’re probably in charge of like idea, generation managing a team of freelancers, managing the content calendar.
So they’re organizing a lot of things in addition to like actually editing the content. I think at a smaller site, it makes sense to have a managing editor who could do all those things and can also put the posts into WordPress for you. They can create the newsletter for you and send that out. They can make sure things are shared across social.
So I think it makes sense when you have a smaller site to have one person who’s in charge of a lot of those things, partly because first of all, they, they know what’s, they know if they have a big picture view of the entire site, they might think of other opportunities that they wouldn’t have thought of.
If they’re only working on like one little piece of. And then secondly, it’s just your people for you to manage because the more people you add, the more you have to manage. So when they got acquired, we have 11 freelancers and like probably S maybe six of them, or seven of them are writers. And then we have an editor and a designer.
And when I’m calling someone, I’m calling a marketing coordinator who. One of her goals is to put all the posts into WordPress. So my preference, like once you start getting past a certain size is to have someone who’s not a reporter, put the stuff into WordPress, like do all of the kind of TDS, making sure everything is right in the backend before you publish.
And there’s two reasons for that. One is he says it’s cheaper. Like it’s much cheaper to have someone do it. Who, whose job that is then have a reporter who is experienced in business or whatever, writing there, they can be expensive, you know? So if you can get someone to cheaper to do it and secondly, it’s letting the reporter or the writer focus on what they’re really good at and what they enjoy so that you can keep them around longer because if they feel like they have to spend a lot of their time on admin work, They might not, you know, enjoy the role as much.
Jared: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. Yeah. What do you think were like, what are the biggest kind of blockages or problems that arise when you’re putting together that sort of structure? Like what are some things people need to know about or can avoid at the outset that could save them a lot of headache when they put together their, their workflow, if you will.
Alexis: The biggest thing I think is just making sure that everything’s out of your brain because too many of us do things. We don’t realize are part of the process. Like we might do them ourselves, or we, when we break down our process, we forget about little pieces. And so that makes it difficult to hand over to someone else.
So I always say like, You know, I just made a process, for example, for creating our newsletter for, they got acquired. When you’re doing that, sit down there, sit down and write every bullet. Like literally every single thing you did. Where did you get the headline? How did you reformat it? Where did you get the image from?
Like really make a very detailed list of what needs to happen for that to work. And I think if you force yourself to get all of the steps out on the paper, then you’ll be more likely to be able to pass it off to someone else. But too often, it just like sits in our own brain. And that’s why we have trouble dealt with.
Jared: Yeah, I can’t. How many times? Well, I won’t speak for you. You’re pretty operationally minded. I struggle operationally. I run actually a marketing agency myself, but I everybody inside my organization will, will vehemently share about how operationally challenged I can get the details and you’re right.
It always ends up in my head and I’m like, did I not share that process? That part really actually very important.
Alexis: You kind of train your team to like today. I told him on the team. I said, you missed the step. And she said, can you create a document that walks through every step of this? And I kind of thought we didn’t need it for that particular task. Cause it was like a short task and my brain, it was like obvious what to do, but she asked for a checklist.
So like there you go. It’s perfect. There’s even in, in WordPress, I don’t know if it’s still available. There used to be a plugin that was like a checklist you could actually put in the back of WordPress. That was it. It said. It was a checklist of all the steps you had to do for each, for each post before publishing.
So I found that helpful because especially for someone who’s new, they can actually go through the checklist in WordPress and check the things off as they’re doing. And they won’t miss anything. You can do it in WordPress. Really. There was a plugin that lets the, pulls it right into the backend. Oh my gosh, that
Jared: that would be that’s that’s that’s a really good idea right there.
You’ve touched on it a couple of times. And again, the dichotomy, I guess I’m kind of giving you a couple of different sides of the coin here, but SOP standard operating procedures, you know the process for every article that gets written the process for the publishing you’ve built a lot of these large teams at scale.
How important are those SOP and how detailed do they need to be the devil’s advocate. And again, I’ve, I’ve seen it over here in our agency is that you give her, like, it seems like a fine line, right? You give a writer, a 20 page document. I have to follow. It doesn’t exactly empower them to necessarily flourish as a writer.
But if you don’t give enough details, then things slip through the cracks or it isn’t up to the par that you want it where’s the balance
Alexis: there. Yeah. The other hard part is, especially with a startup, they change so much. So you might’ve given someone a document and then you realize the next day it’s already update.
Cause you changed something. I don’t know if there’s an easy answer to like, where’s the right balance, but probably usually people who are new, they want that stuff. So I think it partly depends on how fast you’re growing. If you’re growing fast, you got to have everything written down because otherwise it’ll take forever to onboard anyone.
And if you could just hand someone, all these things you put together, then you can fold a lot faster. That’s how we did it at the penny hoarder, because we were growing really fast, adding a lot of people. And it was because we had created a great onboarding process where everything was written down for them and they could review a lot of that on their own.
It doesn’t have to be just a doc either. It could be a loom video that walks them through something. It could be, I’ve seen Nathan Barry at convert kit talks about how they do for each new employee. They do an audio interview about the person, and then everyone can listen to that so that when a new person comes in, they can listen to audio interviews of other people who are already on the team to like, get to know people without having to have a million meetings.
So I think there’s a lot of different ways you can do it. It doesn’t have to all be.
Jared: That’s a good point. That’s a good way. So at the penny hoarder, what kind of walk us through how you scaled that out and you know, what kind of volume you guys are producing the times that you were there?
Alexis: Cool, good question.
I mean, so Kyle Taylor, the founder, he really had, even before I started working with him in 2014, he had done a great job growing, growing the brand. I’m trying to think like, What the, I don’t know what the volume was, but it was a lot
Jared: of, I would imagine that’s kind of what I was getting at. I’m sure it was I’m sure it was crazy.
It was a
Alexis: lot. And yeah, so I think just having, like, especially as we added to people, added people into it, that was always a challenge is like, when you keep growing, some of the systems you had at the beginning might not work that like once you have a bigger team. So knowing when to adjust those systems at different points.
So it was really crazy.
Jared: So, and you said in 2019, you transitioned out of working with the penny hoarder and moved basically back to a blog or website you had started on your own. But the right life and again, the right being w R I T E focused on helping writers. So w why, why the shift, why the move out of penny hoarder, this kind of ever changing super big brand at that point and back into, into your own your own personal.
Alexis: Yeah. I mean, it was really fun. I got to learn a lot there and I think the biggest gift was that I got to do a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do on my own because we were bootstrapped, but we did really well. So there was a lot of money to put into, to invest back into the company.
And that was really the mindset of the founder too. So I got to learn a lot at a much. Scale that I think I would’ve done with my agency previous there’s a few reasons why I decided to shift one is I just missed that early building stage. Like I really like the beginning when you create something from nothing.
And I missed that. You know, I had two kids while I was at the penny hoarder. I had my first kid right now. Kyle acquired my company. It was like three months later. So it was, it was a ridiculous few years. Sometimes the people ask me questions about like, how did you do this? And that I’m like, it was all a blur.
I wasn’t sleeping that much. I’m not really sure.
Jared: I really can’t even answer that. I have no idea,
Alexis: but yeah, I was tired honestly, and I felt like I needed a break and it was, it was really hard to have two kids under three and be in a demanding leadership role. I found. A lot of work. And then yeah, the third piece was just location.
We were at down in St. Pete. That’s where the depending motor is based. It’s a great town. And we missed the mountains. So yeah, we decided to come. We moved before Florida. We had lifted diesel. So we moved back up to this area. We live in West Virginia now in a, in a little in a little trail town.
That’s transition. Yeah, it is actually because we lived in both my husband and I lived in cities, like before I moved here forever, you know, so it was a transition, but it’s been so great at some point as well. So we really, it was kind of like a dream of ours ever since we got back. To both run our own businesses and have a lot of time, freedom and autonomy over our days.
And that was really important during the pandemic, since we have kids. So, yeah, it was an opportunity for us to finally get to that place where we could both be on our own.
Jared: Yeah. It wasn’t just a career shift. It was like a kind of a lifestyle shift, how to shift everything. Okay. Good. And so, so you’ve kind of rebooted this site that had been around since 2013, I mean, was it a very active site when you started reinvesting time into it or was it, it was okay.
So it was a project you’d always had an aside and you just decided to put all of your energy towards it, starting in 2018.
Alexis: So, well, I had, I started it in 2013 because when we were, when I was running the agency, we are running blogs for other businesses. And we had systems in place to do that. We had a large network of freelancers who are contributing to these sites, and I just realized, like, we’re doing it for all these other companies.
We should do it for ourselves into an asset that we can. Leverage over time. So that’s how we started it. And often I use it as a test ground, even for the penny hoarder, or sometimes we’d like, I wanted to try a plugin. I would try it on the right life and see how it went and then we’d roll it out to the money order.
And then what was it? The penny hoarder. I had an editor who was running the site and doing a great job, but I really was trying to just keep it running. I set it up. So it was just making enough money to cover the costs and it kept growing. But I wasn’t doing anything big with it. I just, I didn’t have the time.
And honestly, I thought during those years I thought about shutting it down because I didn’t have the band’s bandwidth, like another brain space. And it just felt undone to me. Like it’s an asset sitting there that could be doing something great. So it was really satisfying in some ways when I left the pending order to be able to look back at that again.
And my goal was to think about, is this something that I want to grow longterm? Like I put together a big plan of like, how could I monetize this better? What would it look like? And there were so many opportunities, but what I realized when I looked at it was, it just felt like it felt like it was a person that I was.
You know, 10 years ago, like I was a freelancer and I was just kind of bored of it and I wanted to try something new. So what I ended up doing was. Just really getting it in shape or that year to sell. And I worked a lot on the search traffic, partly because that was fun. And I felt like it was a great personal development opportunity for me.
I’ve always been interested in a search and I didn’t really enjoy it, but I learned so much about search from our SEO team at the penny hoarder. And I wanted to apply some of that to the right life. So I actually did a lot of those search work myself just as I thought it was fun. And I got to learn by doing it.
Jared: I think I stumbled upon a blog post. You actually wrote. I, it looks like a complete overview of everything that you did to the right life over the course of, I it sounds like maybe about a year, it took you to do all this work. I mean, because basically
Alexis: you, I was working full-time, this is like, we had just moved, we just moved.
And we also moved again during that time I had two little kids. So it wasn’t like a full-time project, but it was my only mine. And also I was consulting during that time too. I was helping. I was having some companies grow writing teams. So it was kind of a side project, but I really, really enjoyed working on it.
Jared: reoccurring theme here. You, you keep yourself pretty busy. I do. Yeah. I mean it, because, well, first off I wanted to just give it a voice really quickly. Cause I think a lot of people probably listening. I’ll certainly speak for me. We all or many of us have a side project that’s been collecting dust for awhile.
And so I’ve just, I was fascinating to kind of hear your process of deciding to pick this project back up and how you had kept this project alive while you were doing, you know, your full time gig at any order. And and then we’ll get into some of the things you did to really shake the dust off of it.
But yeah, it just, I think it speaks to a lot of people, like a lot of us have. Project that we’ve left to collect dust, or maybe we’re not as interested in right now. And we’re kind of in the back of our heads. What do we do with it? Should we put energy into it? Should we just ditch it? Should we just forget about it or should we just shut it down?
So I just, I’m glad you went into it and talked a bit about it.
Alexis: Yeah, I’m actually, I’m trying to have fewer of them now. Cause I feel like I need to have one focus, especially cause my kids are like most of my brain. So it’s like, I only have a certain part of my brain left, so I’m trying not to take too many projects on, but they do inch their way in the side
Jared: project here and there.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They seem to follow us entrepreneurs don’t they shake them completely. So, let me just kinda, maybe I’m going to read some notes I took from this article. And maybe it’ll refresh your memory on some of the things that you were doing there because it was a few years ago, but it looks like you had about a thousand articles at that point when you dove back in and you, you ended up selling this.
A year or two later but you did this full really kind of SEO focus where you went through and focused on improving SEO on this. You, you actually, you did say you only spent kind of a few hours each month, but the results, if I can just list them, is that you, you had about 275,000 page views a month in June of 2019, and you got it up to 460,000 page views within a year.
By the end of 2020 that’s 460,000 pages a month. So maybe we could just talk through some of the things you did there, because that’s a big site to work with, obviously nowhere near the size of like a penny order, but a thousand articles is, is enough that it adds a lot of complexity before we dive into some of the details, just from a large vantage point.
How did you get your mind around sorting out what, where your areas of focus were going to be and, and what you wanted your goals to be for the project?
Alexis: It appealed to me because that content was already on the site. So it’s, it was just, it felt like so much low-hanging fruit, which I know sometimes that’s term is like, has curious a lot of baggage, but there’s so much that could have been done there without even having to create new content.
And we did do some new content too, but I just love the idea of like, it’s all here. It just needs to be better arranged. And to me that just like made sense in my ranger brain, you know I had a big, huge spreadsheet. I actually, I hired an SEO person to, to help me with it who helped me figure out, like, what should I do?
He did a great audit for us. And even though I like understand SEO at a high level, this is like a specialist who’s really good at it. So he, he could suggest things far beyond what I could come up with on my own. And he helped me prioritize a little bit and come up with a plan. And yeah, then I just had a spreadsheet and I just worked with.
Jared: So it looks like you did it. You did an audit you updated improved old content, published new content. You deleted some content.
Alexis: Let’s see you. We had a ton of a ton of content that was cannibalizing, right. Started the site in 2013. I always at the beginning, I think we were doing a few tiny little things for SEO.
Honestly, the site always did well in search because it’s like a bit of an aged domain. We had really high quality content. We did well in the writing niche, but because we had just like written tons of content without ensuring that they didn’t step on each other’s toes. There was a lot of that in the audit, there was like, oh, your, your, these three posts are all trying to rank for the same keyword.
Like how do you turn it into one post and, and get all of that used to go to one place. So.
Jared: I was going to say canalization is basically where several articles are competing for the same topics. And usually, almost, always not. I’m not gonna say always, but usually Google isn’t going to rank any of the articles high.
If they’re all competing for the same topic, they’re kind of like, Hey, you figure out which one you want us to rank and then, then we’ll, then we’ll evaluate it. What did you do about that? Did you just delete a bunch of the, did you combine a bunch of the articles and pretty much go through a process of making them into one big article?
Or did you kind of look at which one you liked best and just keep that one at knockoff? The other one.
Alexis: No, a lot of them, I combined. And then I redirected the old one to the new one. So I’ll give you a great example because this was easy to remember or understand. We, every year we did a post at our, in December that was like X number of best gifts for writers.
So like the writers and we did that for like six years in a row and they all ranked really well. And in fact, there was a year where. You know, we’d, we’d sometimes earn like $10,000, just shouldn’t that one post in December. Cause just people were looking for that and they would go to Amazon and then they buy other things over there, there.
And I just realized like, oh, the old ones are all ranking and we want the new one to pop up. So what I ended up doing was instead of having like all these different doses, I made a list of like, oh, 101 or whatever, 65, however many, it was a much longer posts of all of the. Gifts, and then also made sure that they’re all working.
Cause like some of the old ones, like the links weren’t working anymore. Yeah. And then I redirected all of the old posts to the new one. So it kind of helps send some of the link juice through to the new one.
I mean, it was harder by then to make as much money with the post for a lot of different reasons, but it did rank, it was a top spot by December. Wow.
Jared: It’s a, yeah, it reminds me a couple companies ago we would write a blog post at the end of every year, summarizing our top blog posts. And so I’m wondering how much cannibalization we had after 10 years of doing the top 10 blog posts of the year.
And I think it was the same title every year that we wrote. So
Alexis: I think the one thing that really we did this a lot of the penny hoarder, and I carried that over to everything I’ve done since is. Updating old content. Like it’s just so important because it helps the reader because it’s still relevant and it helps you in Google search results.
So always looking for ways to like, how can you improve? Post that you already wrote, how can you improve it? How can you make it better? How can you have some reason to tag it as updated?
Jared: Did you guys update a lot of content at depending hoarder along with your, your time with the right life? You updated a lot of content.
Alexis: We did it wasn’t. I mean, I think it’s, I’m sure it helps an SEO and the STL world, but we more did it as a way to be helpful for the reader to make sure that everything was still.
Jared: So when you went and updated old content here on the right life, what were some of the things that you were, you were looking at doing?
Was it the same approach? Was it more just making the article more current because it had been out of date or was it really a more SEO focused to try to get this good content to rank better?
Alexis: So what I did was I looked for posts that had opportunities, and sometimes these are ones that were already doing.
Really well on search, but often they were ones that like, they were in like the four or five position. And there were so many of them that could be in the number one position. So I looked at those and I, I looked at a couple different things. One is like, SEOs, did we do a good job with a keyword? Like what keyword is it always already ranking for?
And how can we optimize for that keyword? Because a lot of times we had written the posts for the. Like focus in mind, but it just happened to do well for the keyword that it was ranking for. So how can we like lean into that and optimize for that keyword. But then I also really added to the content.
So like some of the posts, they weren’t that great. Like some of them are good, but some of them really could have been better. So I there’s a few different things. Sometimes I would. I mean, I usually I assign this to someone, so like, I’d have a writer do this. Sometimes I went back to the original writer and said, can you add X, Y, and Z?
Can you interview someone and put their story in? Like, just make it more interesting. What other examples can we. And in some cases I actually assigned a totally new post and just rewrote the post.
Jared: And I published a totally new post on top of
Alexis: it, which I don’t know if that’s even kosher in SEO world, but it ended up being a better like it was, it was because I want it to be more high quality posts and I want to use a different writer and it’s usually easier for a writer to just start from scratch and have to start with something that’s.
Jared: It’s it’s it can be if you are an SEO person, right? If like you consider yourself to be really focused on writing content, that’s SEO, optimized, seasoned word optimized twice, but you get what I’m saying. It can be, it can be difficult sometimes to take a step back and look at your article and say, You know, is this really actually as good as it could be?
Because you can check the box with things like keyword density and article structure, and, you know, you can do all the research on how long your article should be, but sometimes it can be really beneficial to just step back and take that hat off and look at how, how helpful is the article? How helpful are the images, how helpful does it flow?
So it sounds like you, you, you, you were able to do that pretty well.
Alexis: Yeah. I mean, I always, with all the writers that I’ve trained, we all. Say, write a great article first and then we optimize it. And yes, sometimes there’s like a keyword or a topic. We, and we keep it in mind as we’re writing. But the, the article, like, I think too many people.
SCO has gotten such a bad rap because we’re thinking of it as like really boring and it’s total BS. Cause like as a story that’s SEO optimized. It can be just as interesting as, as anything else. It’s just, we have to think about that first. Like that should be your priority is like make a great article for the right reader.
It’s gotta be interesting if you boring. And then how do you layer SEO in as part of that?
Jared: How big of a deal was publishing the new content for the growth versus updating. The old content fixing the old content fixing cannibalization. Like I’m just curious. Cause you got just shy of 80% growth in terms of search traffic in that year and a half you were working on the site was most of it attributed to the, to the new content or was most of it more attributed to updating the old
Yeah. Yeah. Most of it was updating the old content and let’s fixing those cannibalization is cannibalization issues. There was a few posts that we wrote that were new, that did really well, that were like kind of obvious gaps that We on posts that we didn’t have. And, you know, there was places to link to them throughout the site, which was helpful, but the big.
If you had an 80, 20 just redoing the old content was the biggest
Jared: one. Well, I’m going to include a link to this article you wrote. Cause it’s a really good article. If I’m, if somebody has a project, you need to dust off and know where to start, this is a really good one. And it’s a really simple one. Like you didn’t, you didn’t make it you know, overwhelming.
But it’s a big topic. So you made it very simple, probably your, your journalism background, able to make that much better. If one of us got ahold of that and tried to write a, be a 35 page SOP in the end.
Alexis: Well, it’s not though. It’s like helpful for me because now if I have to do that again next year, I just going to go back to, what did I do?
And like, what, how did I think about it then? Cause it’s, it’s easy to forget that stuff. So I like having it written down for. Yeah. You talked
Jared: about at the beginning about how this documentation process you do is, is more than just kind of recording your story, but it’s something you can look back on and continue to learn from down the road.
Alexis: Yeah. I just actually published the post about how, because they got acquired. We were able to get a thousand subscribers before we launched the website and I, and that was a lot of work. It was really scrappy. And I wrote a post, like, how did we get a thousand subscribers? It was just a landing page before the site went live.
And I, at the end I read the post and what. It’s a little bit boring. I didn’t do like it wasn’t my best post ever. Should I publish this? Then I thought, you know what, the next time you have to start from scratch, you’re going to want your list of how you did it. So I published that and mostly for me, so I can go back and say, okay, what are the, what were the 10 things I did?
And I can do that again. Oh,
Jared: great. That is really great. I like that approach. We don’t do that stuff. So you end up selling the you end up selling the right life. How long did you, did you sell that? I think you had mentioned maybe about a year ago or so ago, and now we are on to, oh, sorry, go ahead.
Alexis: Yeah, it was in 2020. Yep. Okay.
Jared: Okay. And so now we’re on Tuesday. Got a call.
Alexis: We set up 20, 21.
Jared: About what year is it? 20, 22 this year,
the last couple of years. It’s all been about one. That was all been about the same year. If you ask me the last couple of years, so sorry. But yeah, so Ron, did they got acquire, which by the way, I think is the. Concept. I am. I caught wind of it somehow before we got connected for this interview. So good job on the marketing, whatever it was.
I don’t remember where it was, but man, I am a sucker for a fun acquisition story as I’m sure. So many people are like, what’s the what’s the Genesis behind this idea and why are you putting your efforts into this?
Alexis: Really, it came out of a pain point that I had myself because I went through this kind of sale and it didn’t feel like there were a lot of resources geared towards someone like me.
Like if you’re having, if you’re selling a site for mid six figures, where do you get information? Where do you get professionals to help you? And I found that it wasn’t like, I didn’t know where to look. You know, it was hard to find those resources, even in terms of. Like, you know, years ago when I sold my first company, if you sell a big company, you can get comps like say real estate comps.
Like you sell your house, right. You look around like in the neighborhood, what did all the houses sell for near you? And you can’t do that right now for a small company. And I wanted that for myself. Like I wanted to go say, Hey, I’m about to sell a content company. Show me 10 content companies that have sold in the last two years for under a million dollars.
So that’s the kind of thing that we want to build. Those are the kinds of resources we want to build this, that. Other founders who are going through this for the first time they need resources. They need data points and they just need stories that people who are doing this like they are, because if you watch the media, you will think that everyone who starts a startup, every entrepreneur is selling the business at the end for $200 million or a billion dollars.
And the reality is for most of us, it’s just much more attainable and realistic and even enjoyable to build up towards a six or seven or a low eight figure.
Jared: You bring up such a good point. It can be so demoralizing as someone, as a small business owner or just, I will even say small business. I’ll just say an entrepreneur who started something.
It can be so demoralizing to read these books, you know, the Airbnb story to read these articles and you’re like, what did I do wrong? And it’s, after a while, I’ve learned to take a step back and go, I don’t know, you’re in business and you’re paying your bills. Like you didn’t do anything wrong. These are just the unicorn stories.
There. Aren’t a lot of. You know, everyday stories of success, people who are still making life-changing income on business sales and business acquisitions, but not the ones that maybe make the headlines with the news media. It’s such a
Alexis: good point. Yeah. This doesn’t speak to me. That kind of story. Like also, I don’t want to work myself into the ground anymore.
Like I want to work 30 hours a week. I want to, I want to hike sometimes on a Tuesday. I’m like the hustle and grind startup culture. I’ve kind of tried it and I enjoyed it for a while, but I don’t want to do it anymore. And I think there’s lots of different ways to build a startup. And we only focus on that one Silicon valley way.
Like you have to raise a ton of money, you have to hire super fast and there are other ways to get to a great.
Jared: Who is the target audience for they, for, they got acquired, like who is kind of the avatar for that, the person that you think the content will, will suit
Alexis: best. Well, there’s two, the first is any entrepreneur, who’s building something.
You know, for many of us, you don’t even have to be at the point where you’d like to sell your business because we’re covering a lot of like, how did this person grow their business as well? So anyone who’s thinking, thinking about. Growing and business that they might eventually want to sell. And I’m hoping we can catch people too, who are at that SailPoint who are like, I think I want to sell, how do I do it?
And we can give them those resources. I’ve also found, excuse me, it’s been it’s picking up with a lot of the M and a professionals. So brokerages is brokerages and like M and a firms. And, you know, there’s, there’s all these professionals, lawyers and financial advisors who were. In this ecosystem and would love to have data on small, smaller.
I say smaller cause like for many people, a seven figure sales life-changing, but like it’s still smaller than, you know, Typically. So I think for those people as well, having access to some of this data will be really helpful for their work.
Jared: Yeah. It ties in nicely. I mean, we had Joe valley on a couple of months ago and he wrote a book called the, the hope I get it right.
The exit preneurs playbook. And he talked about strategies to sell your business, how to think about a sale when you’re not even thinking about a sale. So how to structure your business in a way that is. Could be sold down the road and I’m probably horribly paraphrasing a lot of the key things you said, but it was.
It was a well-received interview and people really enjoyed it. And I, I, I’m hearing a lot of flashbacks to some of the things he was saying in the work you’re talking about having these stories and almost like a playbook for people that they can read when people are at the point of sale, but maybe not just that, but how they grew.
And you can almost. Backfill or move back to the stage you’re at with your business based on these stories and where people are when they’re sharing on your, on your website?
Alexis: No. Yeah, for sure. We, even, even like, we just published a story about how to negotiate an earn-out, like, how do you initiate, negotiate an earn out that has favorable terms for you as the seller.
So I think there’s a lot that people need help with and it’s, it’s hard to know where to get the information. Yeah.
Jared: When I sold my first website was a very small sale. You know, mid five figures. I I, there were so many things I just didn’t understand. It was confused by one of them, for example, is I didn’t know that they were fielding questions from potential buyers.
And I thought that it was just the people at the brokerage asking me the same questions over and over again. And so I kept responding. Like I already sent you this last week. I don’t, I don’t understand. But here. No idea what’s going on. So there’s just so much confusion around what needs to go together and to making a a company, a website an asset for sale.
What what are the best ways for people to, to follow along? You talked about your newsletter. I mean, is that the best place for blue it’s signed up for that to get updates or, or w you know what, what’s the, what’s the, what’s the content distribution schedule that you have for that.
Alexis: Yeah, they got acquired.com/newsletter.
You can sign up for our newsletter. Right now we’re sending out a newsletter once a week on Tuesdays. Like we literally, we just launched a site a week ago, so I was working on for about six months before we actually launched. Yeah, so we’re shooting for a once a week newsletter at the moment and a few posts a week.
We also have a podcast coming out in March then. Yes, that’ll be fun. That was a great learning opportunity for me. Cause I’ve never done a podcast before I oversee. A lot of content teams, different types of multimedia. I got to learn a lot through that. So it’s been, it’s been really fun. It’s a it’s the narrative style podcast, which means it’s, it’s highly produced.
So it tells a story kind of like. I’m trying to think of it or the NPR has the how I, how
Jared: it built. Yep. I know. It’s funny. I was hoping you remember the name, cause I know exactly what you’re talking about and I can’t really name on it.
Alexis: I didn’t use it. It’s how I built it because there’s another podcast how I built this, that I listened to as well sometimes.
Jared: Don’t worry, people in the comments will let us know.
Alexis: It’s one of those two. But yeah, it’s so it’s highly produced and it tells a story of an entrepreneurial who’s who’s built and sold.
Jared: I would be remiss if I didn’t at least ask you on this podcast, what are your growth strategies for they got acquired.
How are you planning on growing the site and and, and, you know, making it something that you know, in the long-term at least is what you’re hoping.
Alexis: Well, our number one metric is really newsletter subscribers. So I think one way to make great progress is to be really clear on like, what is your metric?
And I mean, for most companies, eventually it’s it’s revenue in some way, and that will be the case for us to eventually, but at the moment, our number one metric is email subscribers. So I think being really clear, like that’s what we’re going after has been helped. But we’re going to lean into it. We have lots of different ideas, but we’ll probably lean into content marketing quite a bit because we already have a lot of writers on our team.
That’s what I enjoy. That’s what I’m good at. We are going to roll out in the next couple of months, a referral program for the email newsletter. So we’re going to use spark loop to offer incentives for people who share the newsletter with their friends and bring in new subscribers. So that’s something to watch out.
Jared: I love that you have it clearly defined what your number, one kind of metric of success is out of the gate. That’s really smart. I think a lot of us stumbled through these projects before we realize exactly what the goal is. So that’s a great, great little tidbit there. Like I said, I think we could’ve filled hours upon hours had to gloss over.
Is there anything I missed? There’s anything important that I, that I did gloss over that, that, that maybe is worth doubling down on or anything that we didn’t talk about that you think is important?
Alexis: Not really. I think so they got acquired as a great place to keep up with us via the newsletter. But I also write on my personal blog still.
So, and it’s usually stuff like this, like we were talking about, it’s like how we did X or Y. So it said Alexis grant.com. If anyone wants to get that kind of information, I don’t publish regularly. It’s just whatever I write something, I’ll send it out to them.
Jared: Perfect. Okay. Well that gives people several ways to keep up to date with you.
I will make sure we get in the show notes that that outline that you did, of how you grew the work the right life. And again, man, it’s, it’s really great to just hear your mindset on the, on the penny hoarder growth as well from your time there. And how you operationally organized everything, because it seems like such a big project.
So I’m really glad that you got to share a lot of those details with us.
Alexis: It’s fun. I love this stuff. So thanks for having me.
Jared: Yeah, thanks so much for coming by and until we talk next time, we’ll see you soon. All right. Again, a big, thanks to for sponsoring today’s podcast. Atreus is an all-in-one SEO tool set.