I started the pest control blog in February of 2017, about 7 months after I launched the bow tie site (August 2016).
This article will specifically let you in on why I picked pest control as a niche, how I built the site, and why I sold it.
Below is a screencap of the listing as it was sold on FE International, a popular brokerage for buying and selling online businesses.
Why I Started A Pest Control Blog
Around February of 2017, I was still working my full-time job as an accountant, and earning between $1,500 – $2,000 in bow tie sales each month, but it wasn’t near enough to quit my job.
At this point, I’ve researched, written, and ranked multiple blog articles on my bow tie site and I’ve learned how to monetize organic search traffic.
But I soon realized how friken small the bow tie niche was. There just isn’t that many people interested in learning bow tie style (shocker I know).
So I thought maybe I’d expand into general men’s fashion/lifestyle. There was definitely more opportunity but WAY more competition.
I also knew that I wanted to get out of the e-commerce game and focus on affiliate so it didn’t make sense to try and expand the bow tie site.
Instead, I looked to other interesting niches.
I considered accounting since I was an accountant. I considered baby since babies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and a few others.
Eventually I landed on pest control because:
- It had a ton of products to promote (i.e., bed bug spray, cockroach traps, etc)
- A lead generation component (i.e., pest control in New York, etc)
- Tons and tons of informational content topics, which made display advertising viable
- The current competition had very crappy content clearly written by non-native english speaking authors
- And my favorite reason of all… it isn’t sexy
Let’s be honest…
Most people don’t like bugs.
And most people definitely don’t care to learn or know anything about them. Unlike other niches like baby, food, or fitness where everyone (in theory) can be an expert, not everyone has something to say about the best way to kill cockroaches.
I liked the “unsexyness” of it.
But… it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There were still some drawbacks such as:
- I couldn’t find many many big competitors doing affiliate in the pest control niche, which likely means there’s not a lot of money to be made
- Writers would probably cost a bunch of money because there aren’t many “experts” out there at killing bugs
Overall, the pros outweighed the cons and I loved the “unsexyness” so much I felt comfortable to launch it, so I did!
How I Built My Pest Control Blog
As you know from the previous section, I started the pest control blog in February of 2017.
And as I was still working a full time job and still packing bow ties everyday, I entered the wild world of pest control.
To kick things off, I personally wrote about 30 blog articles targeting informational phrases like “how get rid of bed bugs” and commercial phrases like “best cockroach sprays”.
Just like my jewelry site and my baby site, I leveraged the “hub and spoke” model of content creation.
I opted to do an informational hub where I would publish “get rid of” guides and a commercial hub where I would publish the “best…” type content.
This way I could set myself up to eventually rank for the most competitive phrases in the niche like “how to get rid of bed bugs”, which generates thousands of searches every month.
Below is a mindmap visualizing how all of that looks in practice.
All of this is done to help establish trust with Google and send signals to Google’s algorithm that it should send visitors to my pest control blog when people are searching for pest control information.
And because all of my sites leverage breadcrumbs high up in the HTML, there are internal links built into the blog naturally passing page rank up and down the silo or “hub”.
This structure create a natural flow of supporting content to “pillar content” at the same time establishing topical authority around the target phrase.
Below you can see how things started to go for the first year…
Earnings for the first year followed the same trajectory…
And guess what I did to grow it?
Simple, more content and more links!
I just kept adding on to to all of those hubs creating clusters of content around target phrases.
It goes without saying that every piece of content I create, regardless of the blog it’s on, I’m considering the user experience 110% of the time, because if you give the user what they want, chances are Google is going to be happy.
And in SEO terms what this means is creating content that matches the intent people have for a given query.
For example, if people are searching for “best pet safe cockroach killer” I’m going to give them 5 different options of things that are designed, branded, and marketed as being pet safe.
It’s important that I make that VERY clear to the user that these products were hand-picked BECAUSE they are pet safe, which re-assures the user that yes, they are in the right spot and to NOT click the “back button” to look for a different website in Google’s search results.
This may sound obvious, but far too often people create content around phrases they are trying to rank for but completely miss the intent of the searcher, which sends bad signals to Google, resulting in your piece of content getting demoted in the search results.
This is top priority on any piece of content I create, which is why I think my pest control blog content performed so well and outranked many bigger sites with larger backlink profiles.
Just nailing search intent.
With search intent at the forefront of my SEO strategy, you can see the continued growth going into year 2 of the site. You can also see how seasonality plays into a site’s traffic over time as well.
Of course as traffic goes up, so do its earnings. Here you can see the additional earnings from my Amazon Associates dashboard.
At this point, I’m building about 10 backlinks per month on average with my own internal team of linkbuilders. My general plan when it comes to linkbuilding is to create high-quality pieces of content with unique angles to enrich content of the websites I am trying to get a link from.
I like to call this my “unique angles” strategy.
As a result, I was able to secure bigs backlink from a number of large publications, which really bolstered my linkprofile and helped set myself up for a big year #3 and begin preparations to sell the site.
Going into year 3, I decided to “CRO” my site and work with Convertica a popular vendor for optimizing affiliate sites. As a result of their optimizations I was able to almost double the revenue being generated from my commercial blog articles.
On top of that, after putting up a job posting on ProBlogger.com I was able to find a former pest control technician with years of experiance who was also a great writer!
He was a bit more expensive (.06/word), but he had real insights and actionable tips/tricks I know my readers would find valuable so I decided to invest in content a bit more.
The results speak for themselves. Check out how the site grew for year 3.
And again, earnings went up.
Earnings went up as more people were being sent Amazon to buy the products recommended on the site. Display ad revenue and lead gen revenue also went up. Below is a screenshot of the increased payouts as a result of the growth.
Something I didn’t like about the site was that the mix was about 85% Amazon Associates, 10% Display Ads, and 5% lead gen.
I would’ve liked to earn more from lead generation, but the site just wasn’t set up to convert leads. On top of that, because the site was generating so much revenue from Amazon, it didn’t make sense to change strategy and spend a bunch of money on growth objectives right before the sale of the site.
Out of sheer curiosity, I did run a small test targeting local keyword phrases like “best pest control in x city” and I was able to rank in the top 5 search results for those target phrases, above massive sites like HomeAdvisor and Thumbtack, so I knew the site was capable of acquiring that kind of traffic.
The thing is, it would just take too much work to roll out that kind of content strategy and again, Amazon Associates was the bread and butter of the site so it didn’t make sense to rollout such a drastic change in strategy near the exit of a business.
Why I Sold My Pest Control Blog
This is a question I get a lot.
Why did you sell it?
And I’ll tell you, it’s 100% due to risk mitigation.
I knew the site was built well, valuable, capable of continuing its growth, but I also knew Amazon would eventually cut rates for the home and garden category and that Google is inherently unpredictable and could demote the site for any reason at all.
Two major risks to the business.
If I sold, I could take that cash and buy a multiple smaller blogs that I could grow or just invest in the jewelry blog or the baby blog I already had. This would spread out the risk and put my blogging business in a better more sustainable position.
The funny thing is, one of those things actually happened.
On April 21st 2020, Amazon officially reduced the rate for home and garden affiliate sales from 8% down to 3%, a 65% reduction.
This was a devastating blow to not only my old site, but the entire affiliate marketing industry.
Still, my old pest blog is generating thousands of visitors every day and will continue to be a valuable asset to its new owner.
Now my focus is on building NEW blogs and adding to my portfolio.
Right now, in my blogging business I have 7 different sites with varying degrees of responsibility. Some of the sites I am running 100% on my own and some I am a partner on. where I just provide high level SEO strategy.
To help teach others to build their own blogging businesses and market my consulting business (ShaneDutka.com) I’ve decided to make 3 of them public. The blog I work on most is my jewelry site, and I am a partner on my baby site. The last one, is one I’m not really involved too much, but you should check out is my wife’s coffee site.
There are different strategies being deployed on each of these sites, and if you have any interest at all in making money online with blogs, you should take a look.
What This All Means For You
Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, my intention with sharing the strategy of this site publicly is to teach aspiring bloggers how a site is built and all the little things I do to grow it.
On top of that, to show you that I am an active practitioner of what I teach, not just some guy who makes money blogging about making money blogging.
I recognize there is a market for consulting in the SEO and blogging business world, which is why ShaneDutka.com exists and I am putting time into this project.
That said, I can think of no better way to help people build their own blogging businesses but then also help build my consulting business at the same time then by sharing a bit about my pest control blog.
That said, I’m not giving you a pass to copy my sites and the content on them (please don’t do that), but look at them, learn from the strategies used, watch my videos, and hopefully it inspires you to build something of your own and eventually hire me to help you build it 🙂
Questions, thoughts, ideas, drop a comment down below and let me know!