If you’re looking to transform your new blog into an SEO powerhouse, my interview with Kristi Dosh will give you awesome tips and takeaways!
Kristi is an OG blogger, and has really mastered blogging SEO and what it takes to be a successful niche blogger.
We talk about:
- Easy ways to optimize your posts with SEO
- Niche blogging for profit
- Aged domains and what they are
- How having an SEO blog strategy that is not hard to implement
- And so much more!
This episode will inspire you to put a little more effort into your blog SEO strategy because the financial benefits can be huge, so don’t miss it!
Table of Contents
- MiloTreeCart Affiliate Program
- MiloTree Pop-Up App
- Catch My Party
- Kristi Dosh
- Travel Writers University
- Paula Rollo
- Shawna Newman
- Free Checklist: 5 Secrets Successful Bloggers Know
- Personality Quiz: What Digital Product Should I Create?
- Become a Blogger Genius Facebook Group
- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
Subscribe to the Blogger Genius Podcast:
Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, my friends. Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Mine was very restful. And I’m excited to be back. So, welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie. I am a blogger and serial entrepreneur.
Jillian Leslie 0:28
I’ve started with my husband, Catch My Party our MiloTree pop-up app, and now our new payment tool for selling digital products MiloTreeCart. Before I get started with today’s episode, which I think you’re going to really enjoy, I wanted to talk about a new tool I have been playing around with called ChatGPT.
Jillian Leslie 0:50
This, my friends is a game changer. It is an AI writing tool where you can ask it to write on anything in any sort of style and the results are pretty incredible. And currently it is free. I recommend you Google right now ChatGPT and get an account. I don’t know if they are limiting the number of new users. But this is the future.
Jillian Leslie 1:20
What does this mean for blogging for creating for all of this? Nobody really knows. However, it’s kind of exploded. I think they launched it at the end of November. And it’s going to disrupt a lot of things like high school English class where you could use it to write your English papers.
Jillian Leslie 1:41
However, what I have found is that it is incredibly helpful as an idea generator. In fact, I had Casey Markee back on the show six months ago, and he’s an SEO expert. And he was saying that Google does not want you to use AI tools. And I get that because all of a sudden, the internet might explode with just AI content.
Why I Love ChatGPT as My AI Writing Tool
Jillian Leslie 2:07
However, as a content creator, I do love using ChatGPT to give me ideas to help me think about things in new ways. And then whatever they give me I rewrite but it gets me 60% of the way there. Now where ChatGPT is also so helpful is in creating digital products.
Jillian Leslie 2:34
You know I’m always talking about how this is the way to grow your business. This is the way to build the relationship with your audience. This is how you find people who want to purchase from you. Well, I am hosting a VIP workshop just for people who have purchased MiloTreeCart.
Jillian Leslie 2:53
If you go to milotreecart.com and purchase it before January 10th, you will be invited to this workshop where I’m going to go through ChatGPT show you how I use it; show you how to create a product; set it up and sell it.
Jillian Leslie 3:11
So, if you are ready to get serious, I’m ready to get serious with you and hold your hand through the whole process. So, please go to milotree.com purchase our lifetime deal for $349 pay for it once own it forever and we give you a 30-day money back guarantee no questions asked. I do not want you to keep this if you do not love it.
Jillian Leslie 3:38
My goal here is to motivate you; to get you creating products; get you selling them; get you monetizing. So, if this sounds good to you go to milotreecart.com purchase come to my workshop. It’s going to be a blast.
How to Transform Your New Blog into an SEO Powerhouse
Jillian Leslie 3:51
For today’s episode. I have my friend Kristi Dosh on the show. And boy, she’s busy. She’s doing a lot of interesting things in the world of blogging, for example, she has a sports blog, she has a travel blog, and she just bought her first aged domain, which we’re going to get into in the episode.
Jillian Leslie 4:12
She’s also been doing a deep dive into SEO and shares her strategies. So, without further delay, here is my interview with Kristi Dosh.
Jillian Leslie 4:25
Kristi, welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast.
Kristi Dosh 4:30
Thank you so much for having me. This is my favorite podcast to listen to. And I can’t believe I’m finally on as a guest. So, thank you for having me.
Discovering The Blogger Genius Podcast
Jillian Leslie 4:38
Thank you that means so much. When did you first discover the podcast?
Kristi Dosh 4:45
I think it was in May of 2019 because it was before the pandemic and I was preparing for something I knew was coming in my industry. I didn’t know you I found you just through a search in my podcast app. And I thought Blogger Genius. Yes, that’s what I need. I need some blogging genius in my life.
Kristi Dosh 5:05
And I ended up going back and listening to all of your back episodes over the next few months and just totally binged it. And I think now I have listened to every episode you’ve ever done.
Getting Your First SEO Site Audit
Jillian Leslie 5:14
Oh my gosh. Paula Rollo is a good friend of mine. She’s an SEO expert. And so, you heard her on my podcast, and reached out to her then started working with her.
Kristi Dosh 5:29
Yes, I think by that point, she had done at least two episodes, probably three by the time I heard her. So, when the first one I listened to was so good. I went back and I realized she had done others with you and listen to those too. And I got such actionable advice, just from the podcast, things that I could go back and do right away.
Kristi Dosh 5:48
And I could tell either that it was helping immediately, or it made a lot of sense to me. And I knew that long term, it was going to help me. And so, I reached out to her and asked how she worked with folks, because I knew that in my industry, there was a ticking clock, there was a big thing that was coming in my space, and I needed to be ready for it.
Kristi Dosh 5:48
And at that point, it was about six months out. She did a site audit for me and dug right in and got me ready for it. And you won’t even believe how much my numbers have grown. And I feel like so much of it is because of Paula, she is the best.
The Power of Meeting Up in Real Life
Jillian Leslie 6:22
She is the best. Anybody who wants to do a site audit, contact Paula Rollo at paularollo.com. But then you reached out to me, and you were like, “Hey, I’m going to be an Austin, do you want to have coffee?”
Kristi Dosh 6:32
And you said yes. I couldn’t believe it.
Jillian Leslie 6:40
And so, we met for coffee. It was so fun. And I got to hear all about your business. And again, it’s a thing where you know, people online, and then as soon as you meet them in real life, it’s just this connection, that I can’t explain.
Jillian Leslie 6:52
That’s why I always recommend people go to conferences, meet up with people in your space, because as soon as you meet them, like, we are friends in real life. And so, it was like when I was thinking about people with interesting businesses, I was like, “Oh, my God, I haven’t had you on the podcast, you need to come on the podcast.”
Kristi Dosh 7:18
I am so excited to finally be on it. Because I’ve been listening to it for so long. And I feel like you do, there are very few people in my life, who get what I do. If you take out the people that I have met, like you through seeking out information in my field, as far as my close family and friends.
Kristi Dosh 7:35
I’m lucky that actually my husband is a blogger too. And like me, we both come from journalism backgrounds. And we both still write for publications outside of running our own blog. So,, he gets it to some degree, but I’m far more advanced than he is when it comes to the technical side of things. And SEO, that is not his strong point.
Kristi Dosh 7:54
And so, a lot of things I want to talk to him about. He’s not there yet. They’re a little over his head. And so, it’s so nice to meet other people who get what you’re trying to do, and that you can have a conversation with about what is and isn’t working. It’s magical when you meet those kinds of people.
Jillian Leslie 8:10
I agree. I remember being a mom with my daughter in preschool, and saying I have this site called Catch My Party, and people thought it was cute. Like what I did was cute. And I’m like, no, no, it’s a business. It’s a big business. And they had no idea. I was just like a mommy blogger.
Jillian Leslie 8:32
And I was like, “No, you don’t get my world.” And then I would talk to people in our space who would take it seriously. And I’d be like, okay, finally, these are my people.
Kristi Dosh 8:43
Yes, my mom’s like, “What am I supposed to tell people that you do?” Because I was a corporate attorney before what I’m doing now, and that was easy for her. She said, “My daughter is a corporate lawyer.” And now people ask her what I do. And she’s like, “I don’t know.”
Jillian Leslie 8:56
Something on the internet. My dad has no idea what I do. I agree. Let’s now go backward because you were teasing out all of these things, and I want people to understand where you come from and what you do.
Kristi Dosh 9:14
Like I said, was a corporate attorney, but I actually started blogging before I was an attorney. I am like an OG blogger. I started on Blogspot in 2004. Summer before I went to law school. So, I’ve been doing this for 18 years now. I could have raised a child and sent them off to college the amount of time I’ve been blogging.
Kristi Dosh 9:38
I always enjoyed writing. From the time I was a small child, I entered all kinds of writing contests growing up, but I also always wanted to be an attorney. So, it’s not like I pursued a career as a writer. Now, looking back, I realized that I chose corporate law, because it is transactional law you don’t ever go in a courtroom, you draft documents all day.
Kristi Dosh 10:03
So, even when I was a lawyer, I was writing all day for my day job. And then I was blogging at night and on the weekends. And so, blogging has been a big part of my life for a very long time. I just didn’t know how to make money from it until the last few years.
Kristi Dosh 10:18
So, I’ve been writing into the black hole for years and years and years. But really, I’m able to do it full time now.
How Kristi Dosh Got Into Blogging
Jillian Leslie 10:26
Explain how this sports angle comes into this. And then we’ve started travel angle.
Kristi Dosh 10:33
The very first blog I started was about applying to law school. And then I kept it up through my first year of law school. And then after my first year, I just wasn’t that interested in writing about law school anymore, I was experiencing it every day, I didn’t need to write about it.
Kristi Dosh 10:46
And so, during my final year of law school, I started a blog to write about legal issues in sports, that was really driven by a class I was taking on sports law.
Kristi Dosh 10:59
Some of the things I was researching and working out, and I just had this compulsion to write about these things and put them out there somewhere that no one read, still that blog is out there somewhere. But no one read that really, it was just a creative outlet for me, I never meant for it to go anywhere.
Kristi Dosh 11:20
I knew what I was going to do, I had already taken a job offer from a big firm in Atlanta, where I’m from, I knew I was going to be doing corporate securities work, I knew that writing and sports were not going to be a part of my future at that point. But I still had this compulsion to write those things. It’s a longer story than this.
Kristi Dosh 11:40
I ended up getting myself into a niche writing about legal and financial issues in college sports. And back then nobody really wrote about that side of college sports.
Kristi Dosh 11:52
And I started an entirely new blog in early 2011, about the business of college sports, and it is called businessofcollegesports.com. Not a real creative title. However, what I learned later, was great SEO.
Jillian Leslie 12:07
Kristi Dosh 12:08
I happened on to it and then realized that it took off and I rode the wave of it taking off and right time at the right place. For anyone who’s listening, who’s a college sports fan 2010/2011 was this huge period of conference realignment, where schools were moving around to different sports conferences.
Kristi Dosh 12:30
And that blew up the traffic on my website, because I had the financial data, showing why schools were making those decisions. All these big sports sites started linking to me. I had a free little WordPress blog; I had spent no money on this blog.
Kristi Dosh 12:47
And now ESPN and Fox Sports and the Washington Post and The New York Times, were linking to my little sports blog. That really, being in the right place at the right time and having that content, ultimately changed my career.
Kristi Dosh 13:03
I ended up in a four-week period, getting a book deal to write a book based on my website and getting a full-time job offer from ESPN to go be their sports business reporter.
Kristi Dosh 13:15
So, my tiny little free WordPress blog that I still have today, 11 years later, changed the entire course of my career, it was not something I ever imagined was going to happen. I thought I would be a corporate lawyer for the rest of my life. But here I am 11 years later, still writing about sports.
Becoming a Travel Blogger
Jillian Leslie 13:32
We are friends on Facebook. And I’m always like, “Where’s Kristi now?” You are traveling all the time, I see you in all these cool places where you are speaking and I’m so psyched for you. But I’m like, “Oh my God, she’s on the road all the time.” Which by the way, then how does travel blogging fit into this?
Kristi Dosh 13:52
I went on a press trip, where a destination or a hotel or someone else invites a group of writers to come to see something. So, I went on that as a sports writer to cover I think it was a new golf course.
Kristi Dosh 14:04
I got there. And usually when I would go on a trip like that the other writers who would be on the trip would also be sports writers. But in this case, they weren’t. They were all travel writers. And I guess I knew travel writing was a thing. But I’d never met someone who was a travel writer.
Kristi Dosh 14:25
And so, I’m with this group of travel writers, and they’re telling me how they got their start. And several of them had actually gone through a big conference in person event that teaches beginner travel writers, they had all just been through that together. And they were telling me about it.
Kristi Dosh 14:42
And I thought well, I travel all the time anyway, for my sports stories. I did a lot of writing on new facilities in sports. So I would go all over the country to see new arenas and stadiums and everything. And so I thought, well, I’m already doing the travel and I know how to write I know how to pitch publications. I could write about travel.
Kristi Dosh 15:01
So, I actually went back to my hotel room on that trip, looked up the class that they had taken in person, because they let me know that it was also available online. And I bought the travel writing course in my hotel room that night.
Kristi Dosh 15:15
And that started my travel writing journey. And I am married to someone who’s also a journalist. And so he was in sports, and I came home and I told him about it. And today, he has actually completely left the sports industry. And he is an art and travel writer full time. So, that press trip I went on changed both of our lives.
Jillian Leslie 15:37
Wow. And was this course about monetizing? Explain the difference between a travel writer and a travel blogger.
Kristi Dosh 15:48
That’s a really good question. A travel writer in my definition, and the way I use the words is a travel writer writes for publications. For example, I just turned in a piece this morning for AARP about travel. So, I’ve written for Pop Sugar, and AARP, and a whole host of publications about travel.
What is an Aged Domain Blog?
Kristi Dosh 16:11
However, I’m also a travel blogger. So, you can be both if you I write for publications, but I also have my own travel blog. And actually, now I have two, not to get two in the weeds. But I just bought my first aged domain two months ago.
Jillian Leslie 16:28
What is an Aged Domain?
Kristi Dosh 16:31
It is a site someone else has dropped. So, this site was 18 years old, someone else had dropped the domain, all the contents gone. All you’re getting is the URL.
Kristi Dosh 16:42
However, the URL already has almost 1,000 backlinks from great publications and great websites. And it ranks for a lot of key words, even though there’s actually no content there anymore. So, what you can do is pick that up and build on it.
Kristi Dosh 16:59
And I took a course from somebody to learn how to do that somebody else I heard on a podcast. It’s amazing what you can learn on podcasts and learn how to build on that and essentially build back the URLs that had quality backlinks. And that site has only been live for about two months.
Kristi Dosh 17:16
And we just made our first affiliate sale a couple of days ago. That’s how fast the traffic and the money come back.
Jillian Leslie 17:24
What is it called, again, a dead site?
Kristi Dosh 17:26
An aged domain.
Jillian Leslie 17:27
Aged Domain, how do you find aged domains?
Kristi Dosh 17:31
There are marketplaces so I used a marketplace called Odys. It’s O-D-Y-S, I heard about them on a podcast and the course that I took about Aged Domains. The person who teaches that course her name is Shawna Newman, she recommended Odys.
Kristi Dosh 17:46
And she does recommendations every month where she recommends a few sites on Odys that she thinks people should pick up that they’re valuable. And you can build on them quickly.
Kristi Dosh 17:56
One of the ones she recommended in August of 2020 to happen to be almost the exact same thing I was already doing on my travel blog, which is called Travel by Vacation Rental, where me and my other travel writer friends, we review vacation rentals we’ve stayed in. Houses and condos and such, versus staying in hotels when we travel.
How to Make Affiliate Income from an Aged Domain Blog
Kristi Dosh 18:18
And we review those. And we’re an affiliate for Vrbo and for booking.com and a lot of other accommodation kind of places. And so we make affiliate commission when somebody books a place through our link. And that site, we started in the spring of 2021.
Kristi Dosh 18:36
And it was starting to pick up traffic finally once it hit about a year old and we were getting some affiliate sales, and then this other site came up. And it was basically exactly what we had been doing except it was solely focused on Europe.
Kristi Dosh 18:49
And most of what we had been doing was like US, Mexico, Canada, just because those were the places we had all been traveling and had vacation rentals to talk about.
Kristi Dosh 18:58
So, when this came up, I contacted Shawna and I said do you think this site makes sense for me? I just signed up for your aged domains class, I have no idea what I’m doing. But I don’t want to miss out on this site. Because it’s so similar to the site I already have. And she was like, “Buy it buy it now.”
Jillian Leslie 19:15
Can I ask how much was it?
Kristi Dosh 19:19
I think I remember I think it was right around $5,000. It was an investment and frankly I have a business partner on the travel side. We own that travel by vacations rental blog together.
Kristi Dosh 19:33
And then we also own a business called Travel Writers University together which I’m sure you and I will get into a little bit but we had owned those both for about a year and had some money built up in that business. And I went to her.
Kristi Dosh 19:46
She only does the writing and the editing she doesn’t do anything on the backend does it know WordPress all that well doesn’t know SEO but she trusts me and I went to her and I said this is what an aged domain is. It’s $5,000 what would you think if we took money out of our company to buy this, here’s why I think it’s a good investment.
Kristi Dosh 20:06
And she is the best business partner on the planet. I think it’s so hard to find a good business partner. It’s like trying to find a spouse. And I got so lucky, I actually met her on that very first press trip, I was telling you about the one where I met all the travel writers, she was one of those writers.
Kristi Dosh 20:21
And she was one of those people, you just click with and you have so much in common with and we stayed friends and during the pandemic worked on these businesses together. And she just trusted me. And she said, pay for it out of the company.
Kristi Dosh 20:36
So, we bought it with the money we had made on our other travel endeavors. And it’s incredible, because when you build on fresh domain, a URL that no one’s ever had before, which is what we were doing on Travel by Vacation Rental, Google puts you in the sandbox, some people call it for six months, sometimes more than that, Google doesn’t pay a lot of attention to you.
Kristi Dosh 21:00
I think they want to make sure you’re going to stick around and that you’re creating quality content. And it takes a certain number of pieces on the site to have any real SEO value anyway. And so, that site took us about a year before we started seeing good traffic and increased traffic every month.
Kristi Dosh 21:18
This aged domain we bought two months ago, it had nothing. So, we had to rebuild the pages using some of the URLs we could see backlinks for in the past, and put them up there. I put up a post this past Sunday, I had on that post, we had our first affiliate sale by Wednesday.
Jillian Leslie 21:39
Kristi Dosh 21:40
From Sunday to Wednesday that would never happen on a brand new URL that nobody’s had before. It happened because that URL existed previously on the former people’s website, and it has all these backlinks from other websites coming into it.
Kristi Dosh 21:57
So as soon as I republished it, and it existed, again, the traffic started coming in immediately. It’s like magic.
How to Optimize an Aged Domain with Blogging SEO
Jillian Leslie 22:05
Explain this to me the person you bought the site from or whomever, took off all the posts.
Kristi Dosh 22:14
What happens is the person who owns the site stops paying for the URL. So usually, say they’ve registered with GoDaddy, GoDaddy will try for a certain period of time to get them to take it back.
Kristi Dosh 22:27
Maybe you didn’t update your credit card, I had that happen on one of my sites, scariest thing ever, didn’t update my credit card, ignored the emails that came in and almost lost my site. But they’ll try for a certain period of time to get you to pick it back up.
Kristi Dosh 22:40
And then if you don’t, that’s it. It basically gets wiped out in terms of the content that was on the site. And GoDaddy, they do these auctions all the time, they will auction off just the domain, just the URL and companies like Odys will do research and figure out which domains that have been dropped, actually had valuable content previously.
Kristi Dosh 23:03
Some domains might get dropped, and no one ever built a website. They just sat on it, and then they gave it up one day. But sites like Odys, the way I understand it, is they’ll do their research. And they know that URL has 900 backlinks and it’s from really quality places and their traffic at their peak was like 20,000 visitors a month.
Kristi Dosh 23:04
So, when I looked on the Odys marketplace, it gave me all that data, it told me how old the URL was, how many backlinks. Some of the places the backlinks were for, the top pages, the historical traffic they’d had, but the problem is, you get none of the content. So, you have to rebuild from scratch.
Jillian Leslie 23:45
Let’s say the URL is best places to stay in Venice or best apartments to stay in Venice, which has a link from let’s say –.
Kristi Dosh 23:59
The Guardian. One of our links was from The Guardian.
Jillian Leslie 24:02
The Guardian. You then see this. So, it’s a 404. It’s a broken link on the Guardians front somewhere, they are linking to this. It’s not linking to anything. It’s like a broken link. So, the Guardian could go through and get rid of those links,
Kristi Dosh 24:16
Right. They just haven’t found it yet. But you got to do this pretty fast, because you got to do it before not only the people who are linking to you figure it out. But before Google figures out that it doesn’t exist anymore. It takes Google apparently; I don’t understand enough about that side of it.
Kristi Dosh 24:31
It takes Google a little while too to figure out that it doesn’t exist. So, Google will start sending the traffic to it again as soon as you put it up. And that’s why I put that post up on a Sunday and made a sale by Wednesday, because the link juice was already there.
Kristi Dosh 24:47
The way I was taught to do it through this course and the way I did it was I identified the top 20 pages had really big time backlinks like the Guardian and National Geographic it had all these great backlinks, and I figured out the top 20 pages that had those backlinks.
Kristi Dosh 25:06
And I was able to use my SEO software. My SEO software, Ubersuggest did not show me anything. Unfortunately, I love Ubersuggest, but not helpful in this situation. Ubersuggest knew that it didn’t exist anymore, and told me it got no traffic, had no keywords knew nothing about it.
Kristi Dosh 25:23
I knew that wasn’t true because Odys had sent me reports I think it was from Ahrefs showing everything that was in Ahrefs and I ended up signing up for a service that I actually really liked that I’ve never heard anyone talk about but it’s called Serpstat.
Kristi Dosh 25:32
I was able to see in Serpstat, all the pages that had ranking keywords, what all those ranking keywords were, and identified the top 20 pages in terms of rankings and traffic. And that was priority number one, and is what we just finished was rebuilding those 20 pages. So, we had to build pages that had identical URLs.
Kristi Dosh 26:03
I went on the Wayback Machine, and pulled what the site used to look like. And I was able to see what they had on their page. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts on this, some that’s plagiarism. It’s copyright infringement. It’s a whole host of things that I’m not going to do.
Kristi Dosh 26:25
However, I didn’t want their old visitors to come to my site to see a completely different format. So, I formatted it the same, for example, the page that had the sale the other day is a page that’s about places to stay in London. And the way they had done their pages was they had a list of neighborhoods or towns within a bigger area.
Kristi Dosh 26:53
And they gave a few sentences on each one. And then they had a list of rental properties after that actually, they manage some properties themselves. So, they’re a little different than what we’re doing because they manage their own.
Kristi Dosh 27:04
We recreated it, I totally rewrote what it said for each town. But I kept the same towns they had. And then I found my own property. We’re a Vrbo affiliate, I got into Vrbo’s UK program. And then I went and found London properties that had high reviews from the people who had stayed in them.
Kristi Dosh 27:24
And I did a list of 8 or 10 properties in London with my affiliate links, and somebody booked one of those properties four days later.
One of the best things about doing my podcast doing over 250 episodes is I get to see what a lot of successful bloggers do. And there are patterns. So, I put together a one-page free digital download, where I identify the five secrets successful bloggers all know and do in their businesses.
To grab this, go to milotree.com/secrets and see how many of these you’re doing. Again, milotree.com/secrets. And now back to the show.
How to Make Money as a Niche Blogger
Jillian Leslie 28:14
This whole idea of niche blogging has really exploded. I’m in the niche blogging community on Twitter, I see it all, and I had somebody on my podcast, Chelsea Clarke, talking about how she’s buying and selling blogs and blogs are now assets.
Jillian Leslie 28:32
Before this, they were like our babies and they still are. But there’s now this whole idea of you are building an asset just like it’s a stock or piece of land people.
Kristi Dosh 28:44
People flip them like they flip houses. In fact, so Shawna who I was talking about, that’s what she does. And I initially thought that’s what I was going to do was buy a site, build it back up, and then turn around and sell it and flip it because that sounded like fun to me to flip the site. But this site, I won’t flip.
Kristi Dosh 29:00
It’s so closely aligned to our other site that this one we plan to hold on to. I definitely in the future, I watch that Odys marketplace and a couple of others. I can’t add another one on my plate right now. But down the road, I want to add another one and try flipping because I like a new challenge.
Jillian Leslie 29:18
I love that. Do you hire a writer? Are you doing the writing? How does this work? Are you Jaspering this whole thing?
Kristi Dosh 29:28
No. We’re in a kind of interesting situation on the travel front in that because we’re travel writers, we have a lot of friends who are travel writers. And then we acquired last year, a membership community of travel writers. My business partner and I both taught in that program. And we found out that they were just going to close their membership.
Buying a Membership Community
Kristi Dosh 29:53
Just shut it down to work on some other business units that they had. And we went to them and we said, “Wait, wait, wait, do not close it down, it’s making money, let us just take it over.” There were some things we wanted to change about it, but we wanted to take it over. So, we’ve done that.
Kristi Dosh 30:10
And part of the benefit has been that we have this huge community of travel writers, they often need more guest post and need to write more to build up their portfolio to write for bigger publications that they might want to write for.
Kristi Dosh 30:27
And so, we have totally gotten by at this point on all of our travel writer friends and members in our community, writing on both our travel by vacation rental site, and now our new cottages site. So, we have not done any of the AI platforms or hired any outside writers.
Kristi Dosh 30:45
That being said, I was just telling my husband and my business partner that especially for the new site, we’ve got such great content needs there, because we need to recreate some of these pages quickly, that I think we will have to go outside of our normal community and figure out how to get some folks to help us with that.
Kristi Dosh 31:04
My husband and I both being journalists, and really my travel writing friend being a journalist too, I’m just not happy with the output I have gotten from the AI software. I’ve tried a few and have not been in love with it.
Kristi Dosh 31:16
And even some of the writers I’ve hired have not worked out well. And so, I try to get away without hiring anybody as long as I can. But I know I’m going to have to for this new site.
Jillian Leslie 31:27
Do you pay the travel writers in your group?
Kristi Dosh 31:31
We did not in the beginning, and we told them basically, if you’ll give us breathing room to recoup some of our expenses and start actually getting affiliate revenue in the door, then we will start paying. We really have just reached that point now and just had the conversation the other day, about what we will start paying per post.
Kristi Dosh 31:49
Most of the people that have written needed the clips to be able to pitch to bigger publications and we’re sort of happy to know that.
Jillian Leslie 31:57
I get it.
Kristi Dosh 32:01
I should add to that, too. One of the big benefits to travel writing is maybe people on the outside don’t know, is that tourism boards, hotels, restaurants, attractions, will generally either comp or for a media rate for people who are writing about them. Now, some publications don’t let you do that.
Kristi Dosh 32:22
For example, my husband just had a piece accepted recently by the BBC. And then he told them it was from a press trip. And they told him, you can’t write it.
Kristi Dosh 32:31
A lot of big time publications that have stringent standards for journalism won’t let you accept something free from someone you’re going to write about. But that’s not the case for most bloggers, and a lot of niche sites. The owners of those generally don’t care about that you disclose it, but they don’t mind.
Kristi Dosh 32:51
So, a lot of the folks who’ve written for our Travel by Vacation Rental site, they did it to get a vacation rental somewhere for free, one of our members just had three nights in Key West in a house there.
Kristi Dosh 33:04
We just had a 10 bedroom house, in Outer Banks, North Carolina, that we took a group of writers for a travel writing retreat that was comped by the property management company in exchange for us writing about the house.
Kristi Dosh 33:17
And so, even when we weren’t paying writers, we were teaching writers how to use this thing they were going to write for our site to go stay somewhere for free. Travel writing is a little different in that way.
Jillian Leslie 33:30
You need to be taking now a month long vacation through Europe. So, you can create your content, you can write it off on your taxes, you get to stay at all these wonderful places. And then you get to do what you want.
Kristi Dosh 33:42
I just told my husband, I was doing research and here’s a list of articles we need on some specific things in Paris, “I think we should go to Paris.” And he was like, “We’ve been to Paris, we can write about it without going there.” I’m like, “We can go there and get fresh new pictures.”
Jillian Leslie 34:00
And then we could write about Paris in Paris.
Getting Free Travel as a Travel Writer
Kristi Dosh 34:03
Exactly. So that is definitely the plan. The other site we’ve had a little longer and my husband and myself, but also my business partner. And so many of our writers have gotten houses and condos all across the United States and Mexico and Canada for free in exchange for writing a feature about them on the site.
Kristi Dosh 34:24
And so it’s interesting, because I’m in a mastermind right now with other site owners, and they talk about where they get writers from and what they’re paying them. And I’m like, well, it’s a little different travel because the people want the free travel sometimes more than they care about how much you’re paying per article. So, it’s a little different animal altogether.
Kristi Dosh 34:42
I’m a big believer in paying writers because I am a writer. And so, our deal with our community was like give us time to start making money. And as soon as we’re making money on the site, we will cut you in on that.
Kristi Dosh 34:53
And I think going forward too if somebody writes a feature about a specific property, I want to do a revenue split with them on any affiliate revenue that comes in, because I can see which property it came in from. And then I want to do a revenue split.
Kristi Dosh 35:07
So, if your piece manages to get a lot of people to book that house, I want you to be able to benefit more from that.
Jillian Leslie 35:13
That’s very smart. That’s a wonderful model, by the way, because it’s a win-win.
Kristi Dosh 35:18
How to Work on Multiple Blogs at Once
Jillian Leslie 35:19
I think that’s great. How do you keep your hands or your fingers in so many pots? Before I pressed record, I asked you that question. How do you do it? I’m managing Catch My Party and our pop-up app, and the podcast and now MiloTreeCart and I feel like it’s a lot. How do you it?
Kristi Dosh 35:44
The first thing I always tell people is I didn’t start all my sites at the same time, my business, A College Sports Site is now 11-years-old. So, by the time I hired Paula, at the end of 2019, it was a little over eight-years-old at that point, and had hundreds of posts on it.
Kristi Dosh 36:01
It already ranked really well; I was just trying to tweak a few things to get ready for something I knew was coming in college sports. And so, she did that site audit. And it wasn’t so much writing new content as making some small tweaks on old content.
Kristi Dosh 36:16
And then I started the Travel by Vacation Rental, early 2021. But I have a business partner, and I have my husband, I have my business partners husband, we have all these travel writers who are writing for us, it’s not just me on that site.
Kristi Dosh 36:32
In fact, I built the site out because I like doing that part. And I write some stuff on there. But really, the only other thing that I do is a little SEO work on the back end. So, a travel writer writes a piece, my business partner Noreen edits it.
Kristi Dosh 36:48
We have an assembly line, she sends it to my husband, my husband loads it into WordPress, gets it formatted, gets all the photos put in there does all the alt tags on the photos, then I come in, I do some SEO research on Ubersuggest I make some tweaks to subheadings. And that kind of thing. I grabbed the affiliate links and put them in and then hit publish.
Kristi Dosh 37:11
And so, because we’ve got that assembly line, by the time something makes it to me, I spend less than half an hour putting each post up. And for some, it’s, 5 or 10 minutes, depending on how well I know the place. And if we’ve had other content in that space before.
Kristi Dosh 37:26
That’s not a huge time commitment for me, our community was already running seamlessly when we took it over. And so, it’s just been a matter of bringing in guest experts like you’ve already come into the group one, so we’re about to have you a second time. So, sitting down and doing an hour long Zoom with a guest expert like that.
Kristi Dosh 37:47
And then this new site we bought in 2022. I would never ever start two blogs at the same time. It’s too hard, I don’t think you can get two up and running and do a good job with two at the same time. So, mine have been really staggered over time. And I have other people, I’ve got my husband and my business partner on the travel side.
Kristi Dosh 38:08
On the sport side, I have interns from sports management and journalism programs and one school in particular, I work with regularly and they send me someone every quarter who has to do 40 hours a week in order to get their credit for that semester. So, I get these fellows from one journalism program.
Kristi Dosh 38:30
So, I’m not doing any of it alone is the short answer. But each site looks a little different.
Jillian Leslie 38:36
I would say the same thing. I think of my businesses as children. And infants need so much care. And then as they get a little older, they get more independent Catch My Party, I have my assistant, and I oversee what’s going on. Our content, we go through our content calendar.
Jillian Leslie 38:58
And then I’ve got some extra people working on that site as well. But she’s like the main. Without her I would be totally lost like she’s the boss of Catch My Party. And then our pop-up app works and it works really well. And we’ve optimized it and that works.
Jillian Leslie 39:19
And now our new baby is MiloTreeCart and that’s getting so much attention. It needs its diaper changed all the time. And it’s going through that growth phase. If you think about an infant, or a baby, a brand, a newborn to one how big they get and how much they grow and how much they change. That’s the phase I’m in right now.
Jillian Leslie 39:40
So, I completely understand what you’re talking about. And I agree with you. It’s much easier than say birthing twins.
Kristi Dosh 39:49
My husband is a twin so I’ve heard the stories from my mother-in-law about what it was like trying to feed two of them at once.
Jillian Leslie 39:56
Oh my gosh. Yes. So, what about your business are you most excited about right now?
Kristi Dosh 40:04
I’m really into the SEO side of the websites right now. That was something I knew very little about when I first heard Paula on your podcast. Almost everything I know about SEO; I’ve learned in the last two and a half years.
Getting Into SEO for Blogging
Kristi Dosh 40:19
I had what I call accidental SEO on my sports website because I’ve written there for so long, I had hundreds of posts over a bunch of years on a very niche topic that not very many people write about. And I had those great backlinks coming from big media organizations.
Kristi Dosh 40:35
So, when I came to Paula, that site actually had pretty good SEO already. But it could be better. And I knew I was getting ready for sort of a shifting landscape in college sports. So, she helped me fix that.
Kristi Dosh 40:48
Really what I learned from her and on your podcast, and on a few other podcasts that I listened to and groups I joined and courses I took, I’ve been able to put into action to not only grow the sports website.
Kristi Dosh 41:01
Just to give people an idea of how much it changed. When I first started listening to your podcast and heard Paula the first time, I was doing about 3,500 page views a month on business or college sports, it was not my full-time job. We haven’t even talked about this.
Kristi Dosh 41:14
And we don’t need to get down this rabbit hole. I owned a PR agency for a few years. And that was my full-time income and what I was focusing on full time. So, I wasn’t writing that often for business or college sports, really the 3,500 a month was all coming from old posts that just had good SEO.
Kristi Dosh 41:30
And then I worked with Paula and now I averaged 35,000 a month. Huge growth there. And during football season is when I have my biggest time of year and last December, I hit my all-time high for the website, because that’s the biggest month for me. As you go into college football bowl season, I did 125,000 pageviews.
Jillian Leslie 41:54
Kristi Dosh 41:55
So from 3,500, the first time I ever heard Paula. I sent her an email as soon as the month was over, and I saw the 125,000. I sent her an email and said I cannot believe my sight just did 125,000 pageviews in a month. And I think in January I did 80,000. So, December, January is the best time of year for that content.
Kristi Dosh 42:16
And then now since then I’ve gone back on my pretty steady 35,000 a month outside of those two months. And I hope to continue to grow that. But that’s where I’m at right now.
Kristi Dosh 42:26
I’m just continuing to add to my SEO knowledge, because I’ve seen what little I’ve learned already how much of a difference it’s made in that old website, but also how quickly it’s allowing me to make money on these newer travel sites. But you know, I still have a lot to learn.
Kristi Dosh 42:43
And so, I’m really excited about being able to build on this foundation and grow all those sites because now I make my full-time money from the sports website and the travel business and I do a lot of speaking but all the speaking and consulting I do come from the sports website.
Kristi Dosh 42:59
So, all my current income really comes from the sports website or the travel business.
How to Optimize a Blog Post for SEO
Jillian Leslie 43:05
Very quickly, would you go through your process after somebody has submitted the travel post to you, and your partner now has edited it. Your husband has entered it into WordPress with all tags for the photos. What do you do to optimize it that takes you somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes?
Kristi Dosh 43:29
I go into Ubersuggest and usually the first thing because all of our posts are about vacation rentals, it makes it pretty easy. I go into the Ubersuggest and let’s say it is a Temecula vacation rental. Ubersuggest will let you put in up to three terms. It used to be you only put in one at a time, but now you can put in three.
Kristi Dosh 43:48
So, I’ll put in three variations of what I think someone would type into Google to find a vacation rental in Temecula. I’ll probably do something like Temecula vacation rental first. And then I might do vacation rental in Temecula. If I know that area really well.
Kristi Dosh 44:06
Here where I live on Amelia Island in Florida and most of the rentals here are condos, not houses necessarily. I might search like condo rentals on Amelia Island for here because I know people might type in condo instead of the words vacation rental.
Using Ubersuggest as an SEO Tool
Kristi Dosh 44:27
So, I’ll try to come up with three different phrases of what I think people would type into Google if they were going on vacation and looking for a vacation rental there. And then Ubersuggest, I’ve got a paid plan so it brings up a huge list of keyword terms for me, and it tells me the search volume on those terms.
Kristi Dosh 44:48
How hard it’s going to be to rank for those and now this is what I love about Ubersuggest it’s why I won’t switch to Ahrefs even though my mastermind is trying to peer pressure me into it right now. There’s a little button on Ubersuggest now when you’re on that keyword ideas screen that says “Page one ranking potential,” then I can hit that button.
Kristi Dosh 45:09
And it’ll filter through that list it just gave me and it’ll tell me based on my website, which one of those, I have the best chance at getting on page one for. And I have just been trusting it and doing what it says. And it’s been working. So, it works.
Jillian Leslie 45:25
Sprinkle those keywords in the text or in a heading.
Kristi Dosh 45:31
I will generally choose several different variations because it used to be you had to pick lone term, and people would tell you, you had to put it in 15 different times, or whatever their number was, everybody’s number was different. But Google is smarter than that. Google understands variations on a term.
Kristi Dosh 45:48
And so, when I get that list, we’ll find several different variations on that same idea, I will pick one as my focus keyword I use Yoast. So, I’ll pick one, that’s going to be my Yoast. And that main one I will make sure is in our headline.
Kristi Dosh 46:06
So, in our title bar post, and I know you’re supposed to put it as close to the front as you can, but for us putting vacation rental at the front over and over and over and over and over. And I think our site would look ridiculous. So, I don’t always follow that. But I put it somewhere in the headline.
Kristi Dosh 46:21
And then you try to put it in at least one of the subheadings and try to work it into the first paragraph and the last paragraph. That’s roughly what I’m trying to do. And then some of those other related keywords, I can usually work into other places in the text or in the sub headings.
Kristi Dosh 46:40
I don’t necessarily shoot for a certain number. I just want to make sure I have some in there, but then go back and tweak it later. We had a post that really wasn’t doing much of anything. My business partner Noreen wrote it. It wasn’t really going anywhere. And it was about how she bought essentially Timeshare through Marriott and had a great experience.
Kristi Dosh 47:03
And so, few people have good Timeshare experiences. So, she wrote about it. And I had done the keyword research. We put the post up, it did a little bit because she pushed it on social and then it died. Several months later, I was looking back through Ubersuggest and it was telling me pages I could improve.
Kristi Dosh 47:20
I love Ubersuggest because it gives you a lot of suggestions for how to fix things. And it mentioned that I should work in they don’t call them Timeshares it’s Marriott Vacation Club, I think. And it Ubersuggest said try working in Marriott Vacation Club Review.
Kristi Dosh 47:41
We didn’t have the word review in our headline, I added the word review in our headline and I show people in our travel group all the time, the Google Analytics like graph, and it’s like you see the spike when she first posted it. And then it’s just flat and it’s basically nothing and then you see the date I changed the headline.
Kristi Dosh 47:58
And from that very next day, it just starts going up. As soon as I change the headline, it started going up. I changed that headline July of 2022. Now we’re recording this in October of 2022. That is still the number one post on our website every single month since then, because I changed one word, I put one extra word in the headline.
Jillian Leslie 48:19
That is amazing. That is so interesting.
Kristi Dosh 48:22
I love Ubersuggest, I think Ubersuggest is so good. And there’s no affiliate link for Ubersuggest and I talk about it all the time. It’s genuinely just because it is so easy to follow. If you’re somebody who doesn’t really know SEO yet, and you’re just at that beginner level, it will feed you things to do and feed you suggestions.
Kristi Dosh 48:44
I trust it. And I do what it says and it has worked not just for our travel site. It’s worked for my husband’s art site. It’s worked for my sports site, I am using it on all of our sites, and they’ve all seen huge improvement, as I implement the things Ubersuggest tells me to.
Jillian Leslie 49:00
That’s amazing. And I’ve used it and I paid for it and I cancelled it. But I might base on this conversation resubscribe because I love Neil Patel, and I was in there early. I’m going to go back and revisit it.
Jillian Leslie 49:12
Now this is what I think you are saying. When it comes to SEO, you are thinking about search intent all the time.
Kristi Dosh 49:23
Yes. Absolutely. It is not about what does someone type in Google when they sit down and they’re looking for this thing how are they going to word it and one of the best things you can do is go in Google type in what you think they’re saying.
Use Google’s Related Searches to Improve Your SEO
Jillian Leslie 49:37
And scroll to the bottom.
Kristi Dosh 49:39
Yes, look at those related searches. Because sometimes what you’re calling something is just not the language someone else is using. They’re using a synonym for it. If you use that instead, you’ll see your posts do better.
Jillian Leslie 49:52
Yes. And I always talk about this, how hard it is for us to get out of ourselves. I see the world through me. I’m thinking to myself, I hope Kristi likes me, we can’t help but be in ourselves. And I think that when you think about search intent, you have to get out of yourself. And think about the random person on Google, and how they’re going to interact with your content.
Jillian Leslie 50:21
They don’t necessarily say, your recipe post. Do you want to really hear about your grandma, even though you love your grandma so much and this recipe came from her. It’s like, nobody cares. And so, the idea they care about their own grandma.
Jillian Leslie 50:35
And I think that is a very powerful message that I continually have to hear and learn just in my own life. But when it comes to SEO, I think it is super powerful.
Kristi Dosh 50:46
It is and just thinking about how someone else I’m sure I heard that on your podcast somewhere, and that it changed how I was looking at things because now one of the first things I do and the vacation rental stuff, I do it for less because we have such a niche topic, I know it really well now, and I don’t do this as much for that.
Kristi Dosh 51:04
For my sports website, I often go to Google and we’ll type something in before I go to Ubersuggest, just to see how other people are wording it because I’m a subject matter expert on a very niche topic inside college sports. For those of you who follow college sports, it’s the new name image and likeness legislation.
Kristi Dosh 51:25
And there’s certain words I use, because I’m a lawyer. And because I know the topics so well, like a high school athlete, or their parent is saying things totally different than I am because I know it so well and they don’t and they’re just learning about it.
Kristi Dosh 51:42
And so, a lot of times I go to Google, and I look not just at the related searches at the bottom, but usually a third of the way down the page, you’ll have the questions people asked, the little expandable sections with the questions. I look at those to see what are people asking.
Kristi Dosh 51:58
Just on a sports post the other day, this post has been ranking number three in Google for months and months and months, which three is great. But I’m competitive and I want one. And so, I went and I looked at what those questions were, I added three of those questions, which I think are no brainer, like how does anyone not know these kinds of things?
Kristi Dosh 52:17
They weren’t in the article because it was liked by the time somebody gets to my article, they know these things. However, I don’t think they do. So, I put those three questions in my post and answered them. And I shot up to two already and I am going to take one.
Jillian Leslie 52:31
I love that. I think that is so great. Kristi, you have shared so much great insights. So, if people want to reach out to you, so many things that you’ve shared. If they have a sports question, if they have a travel writer question, if they have an SEO question.
Jillian Leslie 52:54
If they have a membership question, if they have a how to buy a domain question, how do they reach out to you see what you’re doing see your blogs, where’s the best place for them to go?
Kristi Dosh 53:07
My email is email@example.com.
Jillian Leslie 53:13
Kristi Dosh 53:14
It’s K-R-I-S-T-I@K-R-I-S-T-I-D-O-S-H.com. So, firstname.lastname@example.org, and all the social media platforms the same name its sportsbizmiss. So, sports and then B-I-Z-M-I-S-S. So, check my DMs and I’m on all those platforms all the time.
Kristi Dosh 53:43
And whether it’s sports or it’s travel, you can still get me fastest and best through those because that’s where I spend the majority of my time and always happy to answer any questions people have or point them in the right direction or tell them who I used to learn something.
Kristi Dosh 53:59
Because I’m just so appreciative of how this has changed my life and my husband’s life. He left his full time job in sports radio, beginning of 2021 to run his art and travel site full time. And so, we’ve both been able to change our careers through this. And we’d love to give back and help anybody we can.
Jillian Leslie 54:20
I love that. I have to say, Kristi, I’m so glad we’re friends. And thank you so much for finally coming on the show.
Kristi Dosh 54:27
Yes, thank you for having me. I’m so excited and always love spending time with you, Jillian.
Jillian Leslie 54:33
I hope you guys liked this episode. As you could probably tell I am a big fan of Kristi’s I love her boldness. I love her willingness to try new things to buy a membership here to start a new blog here to monetize in a whole host of ways. I just feel like she has that entrepreneurial spirit.
Jillian Leslie 54:54
And in fact, after we recorded this episode, she led her first paid workshop using MiloTreeCart and she loved it and she thought it was so easy and she’s made $500 just doing a one hour paid workshop and then reselling it. And she was so excited and was messaging me on Facebook telling me how delighted she was with the whole process.
Jillian Leslie 55:17
If selling digital products is something you want to explore in 2023 go purchase MiloTreeCart. Come to my VIP workshop, I promise you it will be worth it.
Jillian Leslie 55:28
Head to milotreecart.com purchase you will hear from me also I will do a personal product review of your first digital product because all I want for you is to be successful and make lots of money.
Jillian Leslie 55:43
And I will see you here again next week.
Other related Blogger Genius Podcast episodes you’ll enjoy:
- Best Ways to Build Your SEO Traffic in 2022 with Casey Markee
- How to Make Six Figures from Niche Blogging with Chelsea Clarke
- 5 Quick SEO Wins to Get You More Traffic with Paula Rollo
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