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AFP 5: Content Sourcing And Creation For Niche Websites

Justin Cooke January 13, 2012

In Episode 5 we’re responding to a special request and getting back to basics to go into some detail regarding content for our niche websites.  We’re making a some slight changes to our process for content in 2012 and wanted to document some of the sources we’re currently using to obtain all of the content required to build out the sites as we continue to grow.  We also go into detail regarding how we check content for uniqueness, quality, etc. so that we can be sure our sites will easily obtain ranking on the search engines.

Where to Find Content for Niche Sites?

We’ve had quite a few requests lately asking us exactly how we use our agents for the content building process and decided to cover how we find writers and our management process that allows us to turn our best writers into Content Managers that can run this section of our business.  Lastly, we cover our onsite SEO and how we use the content and internal links to optimize our sites for the search engines.

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If you liked the episode, please hop over and give us a review… Here’s the link to the podcast on iTunes.  Thanks to everyone for the reviews and subscriptions!

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Topics Discussed Include:

  • AdSense Flippers Intern Position
  • Changes to our niche sites in 2012 (Themes, linkbuilding, content, etc.)
  • Our Content sources and recommendations
  • Our process for creating content for niche websites
  • Management tips and tricks for your writers and content managers
  • Checking the quality and uniqueness of content
  • Where to find content writers and managers
  • Ninja Marketing Tips: How to organize your reports
Questions or comments?  Don’t be shy!  Let us know what you thought in the comments below.


  • disqus_bBohG4CAWu says:

    As always, great stuff! What are you thoughts on images? How many per page? Do you pay, use free ones or erm, ahem, borrow them? 😉

    • disqus_bBohG4CAWu says:

      Doh, just scrolled down and seen the answers to some of the above, just one question left how many images do you suggest per page for primary and secondary?

      • Justin Cooke says:

        2-3 images in the content will do the trick. Use different keywords and longtail phrases for the image and Alt-Text naming…also use in the description.

  • Btbuzz says:

    By the way i dig your honesty in your biz model also your ideas.

  • Btbuzz says:

    i had 3000 articles edited in two months by a college friend of mine.
    One was 50 sites 4 articles each on this dude who was some swindler in real estate
    Some company had the smart idea of flooding the gates of google with these sites.
    To make him look good. I’m not sure if it worked, If not he’s probably in Cebu hiding watching serps comon 7/11.

  • Btbuzz says:

    We use textbroker , editing them outsourced articles is a hassle , I look like a dog hearing a funny noise when reading one. The cultural difference is why it’s not their fault.

    • LOL, just pictured that. You’re right sometimes the wording hurts my head too.

    • JustinWCooke says:


      They’re a bit more expensive, but probably worth the hassle if you don’t have the manpower to do the editing for less than the additional costs of the article, for sure. If I was doing it myself alone or with 1 VA, I definitely wouldn’t bother with it, I think…would stick with TextBroker. (Or some of the better writers on iWriter maybe)

  • VictorPidkowich says:

    Hi fellas, great work with the podcasts!

    Just wondering what quality level you are using with iWriter for your secondary articles? Basic, Premium or Elite? Much appreciated!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Victor,

      We’ve been using Basic for our secondary articles. Some of the “basic” writers we’ve found are even good enough for primaries, but it’s a bit hit and miss…thanks for the comment!

      • VictorPidkowich says:

        Im going to go ahead and use iWriter for all my site content come next few sites to see how it goes. This includes using the elite selection for primaries and possibly the other two levels for secondaries, should really reduce my content expense compared to text broker for all content 😛 Thanks for bringing this to the front of my mind!

        Ill try to come back and give an update on how well it is 🙂

  • Wesley Banks says:

    Just catching up on some podcasts I missed and this has been my favorite so far. It was pretty neat to hear your take on content creation and all the different sources you use. Looking forward to the next one.

  • Haveblue says:

    Where do you guys find the images for your sites? Do you just do a Google search, or do you pay for your images?

    I’ve built a couple sites, and just used images I’ve “borrowed” from the web. Not sure this is the best practice, as I don’t own the image.

    I don’t want to have my adsense account banned because
    of copyright infringement. However, I think this practice is commonplace.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      We have our agents use image searches and have them look for images that are free and available without copyright infringement.

  • Carmen Barbalace says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast. You guys tell it the way it is and seem very honest and sincere. I’ve built 2 websites so far but I think the niche I chose is a bit too competitive.I got to page #1 a few times but because of the google dance or whatever, it has slipped way back now. What do you guys do to keep your site up in the rankings? It’s one thing to get to the top but staying there is the problem.

    • Sorry Carmen, I had to remove you link to what seems like an spam site. None of that here!

      You comment is great however and i appreciate you stopping by. We usually don’t do much to sites once we put them through “the machine” as we call it. We feed the machine good keywords in low competition niches and it spits our ranking sites — most of the time. About 20% it does not work, so we simply move on and create more sites.

      Int he future we may go back to under performing sites to see if we can improve the situation. Something for our intern to do!

  • Loved the podcast! I just started my first couple niche site projects using the tips I’ve learned from you guys. Also, I’ve been using Flux for over a year now. It took awhile to get use to the change in screen tones at night. Other than ease on the eyes, flux is suppose to limit your blue-light exposure at night. Excess blue-light after dark can throw off your natural melatonin production and disrupt your sleep cycle. Going to sleep before 3:00 am would pry improve my sleep but not until I build my first 10 sites!

  • cameron keng says:

    Great podcast on content generation. I write a lot and I know first hand how hard it is to consistently produce original content. I had to write 40 pages in 5 days once and went through major burn out. These a great ideas to help me pass off some of the easier topics to people so that I can focus on the difficult topics.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your link building strategies. Google is constantly slamming individual link groups, so most of the effective groups have gone private. Interested in seeing what ideas you guys have as well.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Cameron…thanks for the comment!

      40 pages in 5 days, eh? Ouch! Yes, being able to “outsourcing yourself” and step yourself up in the editing process by building a team is key to massive output when it comes to content.

      Linkbuilding is a tough one for us. We know general principles and strategies but, with our process, we have VERY little leeway in terms of cost/spend. We’d like to have a more robust process, but only if we get a direct ROI from that additional cost/hassle. For sure, though, we’ll have a podcast on linkbuilding in the future…

  • Hi guys, great points on getting the instructions ready first. The more information you can give the authors, the better they can write for you, no matter how you source them. And thanks for the feedback on our system. We’ll see what we can do to make things easier and cleaner.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Yeah…the more info you can give them the better your writers will do for you, for sure. It’s great to see TextBroker out and about, responding to comments about the brand. Good job, guys!

  • Steve says:

    Hey Guys, I have a FiveRR question for you.

    I’ve found a provider I like that I’m using for my primary article on each site.
    However, I can’t figure out a way to just order a batch of 5 gigs from the guy – the FiveRR interface is making me go through the whole ordering process to pay $5 dollars at a time.
    I thought activating autopay would help, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

    Any tips for speeding up order a batch of FiveRR gigs?

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Steve,

      Unfortunately, that’s a limitation of the Fiverr interface. There might be an option next to the order button on the gig that asks you if you want to “order more than one” that will allow you to put a few orders in at a time…that’s the best workaround.

      We’ve had some people ask to write articles outside of Fiverr and one of our Content Writers was warned by Fiverr to NOT ask or contact writers outside of Fiverr and we’ve stopped that. I don’t necessarily agree with working around Fiverr…I’m happy to give them their cut…but the problem is as you’re suggesting…it’s not easy to put in multiple orders.

      • Steve says:

        Thanks Justin.

        The gig I’m working doesn’t seem to have the option to do that. I don’t mind paying FiveRR their cut, but you think they would make it easier for us to give them the cash!

        Spending two minutes on the order process for each $5 dollar spend may not seem like much, but if I ever scale up to the level you guys are at it will be quite a lot of time (and I don’t have a VA to order content for me).

        • Mark Thompson says:

          Steve, you’ll find as writers move up the “level’s” in Fiverr (i.e prove they can offer quality work over a period of time) they get the opportunity to add different options to each gig.

          You’ll probably find that some of the high quality writers will offer 4 articles for $20

  • Matthew N says:

    Once again a great podcast. Well done guys and very interesting to hear how someone else in the industry is doing their stuff.

    My VA hires content writers from oDesk to do piece work. This has worked perfectly so far.!! I used to use sites like Textbroker but the quality just wasn’t there for me. The good ones from oDesk we just continue to use and that is all managed through BasecampHQ

    So in a way it’s fairly similar to your system of using websites to find reliable writers who you can go to.

    • Interesting Matthew, we use Basecamp for higher level project tracking but I’m wondering how you use it to track individual tasks without creating a whole bunch of task lists (very time consuming). Mind sharing your process a bit?

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Matthew,

      Would definitely love to hear about your process for using Basecamp with VA’s. Interested in writing a guest post about it?

      It’s cool you’ve found some strong writers on oDesk. I’m not such a fan of oDesk…it seems to take up a good portion of my time and can be quite a bit of work to find good people, but I have a friend that uses it regularly and just loves it, heh.

  • dano says:

    Hey guys, that was a nice listening, finally got sound on my pc so up to start listening the other ones. Did a lot of reading today on all kind of IM blogs and it certainly made me feel like the end of the world at certain times, all these clowns saying that microniche sites are dead, but afterwards I googled around I still see many dominating the 1st page and you guys dont seem to give up either so guess there are still enough options to make a fast buck.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey, Dano…definitely not the end of the world! As the search engines get better they’ll require better sites to earn money. It’s an evolution that, ultimately, should be good for the readers…and everyone involved in the process. (hopefully!)

  • I’ve been trying out flux and I’m definitely taking a liking to it! And also iWriter is definately a great source for affordable articles! Will try and use it for my next project

  • Tom says:

    Great job guys, very professional! Sounds like iWriter might be better than my current source for secondary writing + downloading flux now!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Awesome, Tom!

      Definitely try it out a bit first, find yourself some good writers, etc. I like the platform and our Content Managers are fans now as well…

  • Dave Starr says:

    Some good tips here, guys. I particular I like the fact that you are in the very minority of those who ‘push’ the outsourcing model who actually have thought through the process of managing outside help.

    In my personal experience, there are a number of ‘independent outsourcers here in the Philippines who are making out pretty good right now, because they got signed on to be a blogger/entrepreneur’s VA, and the person who signed them on doesn’t really have a clue as to what s/he wants them to do.

    Someday, sensible instructions and ‘doable’ assignments may come through to them, but in the meantime, as Dire Straights said, “Money for nothing ….”

    “Outsourcing” ain’t magic, guys and gals. Having ’employees’ and being the boss isn’t a bed of roses, as many hourly-type folks today daydream that it is.

    Oh, and by the way, that Gecko Board looks like a really useful tool. What the heck, another $9 a month? It’s only money, I’ll make more LoL.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, Dave…

      Yep…that’s one of the reasons we (almost completely) stopped offering VA’s from our outsourcing company to IMers. They often thought they wanted to outsource, but then wouldn’t have a plan to go about getting it up and running.

      It’s easier to hire staff here directly, but you can do it and make it work while abroad. Glad you like Gecko board…try before you buy! hehe

  • Dan says:

    Just wanted to say I loved this episode, I learned a lot of solid stuff in here, I’m playing around with Gecko board right now. Looks awesome.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, buddy! Was some mention of Geckoboard in the DC…should look up the thread! Someone was trying to build something similar, I think, but keep it free?

  • Mike Thomas says:

    Great podcast, guys. I’d love to see an example of the modified adsense theme that you guys use. If you have a tested and proven version of a theme I’m sure you could sell it to your listeners. We’d buy it 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Cool, Mike! We’re still working on it, making changes, etc. Once we have a strong working model we’ll probably put it out there…

  • Matt says:

    Great podcast guys!

    I personally use for my content writing, you can find some really good writers for a cost effective price. I pay around $3/article for 500 word high quality work.

    Anyway good luck in 2012!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, Matt!

      Scriptlance, eh? Another good resource we’ll have to check out…it sounds like the price is right. Isn’t that similar to oDesk or eLance though? The reason we don’t go that route is that we prefer services that offer content specifically…it seems to be less of a PITA.

    • If you are patient you can get good 800-word articles on oDesk for about $3. However, you do need to do a few interviews to find that rate.

  • aldo says:

    I agree with you guys, some content writers out there they just trying to write around keywords to complete an none sense stupid article, This is real pain !!!!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Yeah…silly, right?

      Even though we ask for exclusively written content, some writers are trying to use workarounds to save themselves time and earn more. I can’t blame them for trying to find shortcuts, but you can’t let them do it to you at the expense of unique content and, ultimately, ranking.

      • aldo says:

        Well the thing is that they just think about short terms , they dont think about creating a business…., quality always will outrank and will talk about you for ever , i mean right now 2012 we are very social and even the internet is very big you will get a bad reputation by doing stuff the wrong way…

        I prefer find writers with the right mentality and give them some training and tips since they are looking for wrong on the content creation business which is endless and the bes business since there is always some to write about and is a pain for website owners.

  • Stevewyman says:

    Really interesting content guys.

    Whilst what you say about on page SEO makes sense with the way you work I do feel I’d like to pick you up ona couple of things.

    1) I dont agree with comment that its natural to have links from a blog post to an authority. Its not very very few people ever do that. Its only so if there is relevance. So if im talking about backlinking strategies I dont see any google panalty for not referencing other people.

    Now is it a plus yes its a plus but its no an unnatural event.

    However I do agree that linking out from with in the content of a page is a very smart strategy, wether its to external authoirty sites or to internal pages.

    2) I think, you suggested external backlink is a lot less important than on page SEO? thats contry to years of reserach on SEOmoz.

    Again no disrepect and onpage and inter page linking is absolutely essential. H! tages etc etc.

    Did i miss something?

    Other than that awesome content guys and thanks so much for continuing to inspire folk (I refer a lot of people to you, certain top 5 go to site)


    Steve Wyman

    • Thanks Steve, we appreciate your contrary views.

      However keep in mind the niches we go after are extremely easy to rank for and are very specific. This means our process may be slightly different than the typical SEO approach that is usually meant for larger sites.

      • stevewyman says:

        Hey Jo

        Didnot consider it to be a contary view. More the conventional wisdom.

        For clarity the only reason I ever query what you guys say is to gain more insight. Some of your sites really push the bold,underscore, onpage SEO togetehr with heavy above the fold adsense. Now if your doing it I figure its got to be working so like to understand how or why. When so many say it should not.

        Got you on the micro niche sites. Cool yes if your in low comp then On page could get you top ten i guess. But I assume you still do some backlinks or have you taken it down to 0 with those sites ?


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Steve, thanks for commenting!

      1. If you have a site that has all internal with NO external links, that does not look natural, IMO. Your on-site SEO is judged on both your internal links AND those that you are linking to. While I don’t believe you’re punished for having crappy links pointed to your site (out of your control) I DO believe you can be punished for pointing towards crappy sites.

      2. Remember, I’m stating that with OUR strategy, I believe on-site SEO is more important than off-site SEO. Keep in mind that we’re targeting low-comp longtails. While this applies for our niches, this strategy falls apart in niches that are extremely or even moderately competitive. For those niches, you can assume that all of the pages on the first page are already optimized well with their on-page SEO…and so off-page SEO becomes much more critical because of that. For example, good on-page with limited off-page won’t get you very far targeting a phrase like “cheap laptops”.

      Thanks for the continued support, Steve!

      • stevewyman says:

        Hi Justin,

        2. Ok i get that now. Id assumed you were going after the slightly higher comp these days. If going towards the longer tail and Microniche sites then Yep On page will get you a long way for no real additional cost. Very beneficial in your model for sure.

        BTW you might find the white board friday at seo moz interesting.

      • dano says:

        Want to make a little side not about point 1, that crappy links won’t hurt your site cause it “could” be out of your control. 1 month ago I did a test on a 1 yr old PR1 domain of myself. Blasted it with 40.000 scrapebox comments just to see what would happen (site made only $5/month). The next day it dropped from pos. #3 to #28 and the day after that it came back to #6. Since then it stayed at #6.

        • JustinWCooke says:

          Hey Dano,

          We did a similar (public) test where we had people blast sites with links. There were those that were SURE it would tank the sites but, ultimately, nothing happened. It wasn’t a definitive test, but the results were interesting all the same…definitely had us leaning towards the answer that it doesn’t matter.

          • LOL, I remember this “test”. Good to know Google does not make it so easy to tank competitors sites. See, they’re still not that evil!

          • dano says:

            Must admit I also did it to anohter site of mine, which is a few months old and that even seemed to have helped the rankings. Talking about thin amazon affiliate site with >2000 pages, but there I sended 75k comments and 25k xrumer spreaded over all the pages instead of pointed at 1 single url. Guess we can conclude that it doesn’t make much of a difference indeed

  • Country says:

    Hey Guys,
    What is the Pro Adsense Theme you are switching back too?
    I always use CTR also so I need to switch too.
    Please let me know.
    Thank you

    • It’s called ProSense and is available for free. It’s is no longer supported and not for the faint of heart — it takes a bit of PHP editing skills to get it to work. We are trying to make it easier to use by adding an admin panel. It will take us at least a couple of month to develop and test internally, but it might be something we release to our readers and listeners.

      • Country says:

        Do you have any other good suggestions for Themes which are easy to use? My site builder is probably familiar with PHP editing, but I want to make it a simple process.

  • Andy says:

    Wow, great content. I usually get 1 or 2 useful pieces of info from a podcast.
    I had to listen to this 3 times to this one and take notes.
    You guys are going to use up all your actionable, practical advice and not have anything to talk about in the future.
    Three questions:
    You mentioned switching to Hostgator. Are you using reseller hosting, so all of your niche sites can have their own control panel for VAs and ease of resale site transfer?
    If not, do you see a reseller account as a benefit?
    Have you tried Content Authority? I think Trent at OIL uses them. Just curious how they stack up.
    Thanks for the excellent show. I’ll be sure to make it to Itunes and leave a review there.
    How about a show on practical productivity tips?

    • Thanks Andy!

      We may use a reseller account in the future, but we don’t right now. I see the benefits, but I just haven’t had the chance to fool around with it.

      Haven’t tried Content Authority, but we will add it to the list of things to look at.

      Love the “practical productivity tips” idea, something we should run with for sure.

  • Dwayne says:

    I have been trying to start a few niche sites just to see if I can do it and the info you guys provided in this podcast will making it a lot easier. Thanks, guys.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Awesome, Dwayne!

      Do check back in and let us know regarding your progress. Don’t worry about starting off small, just know that it will take a while to see results and you have to push through to get them up, running, and earning!

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