October 2018

By: 
Tom Qiao
 | 
Updated: 
November 1, 2018

Welcome back to another monthly review at Flexibility is Freedom!

October was a very productive month and I have lots of updates to share with you.

But first, I want to go back in time a little... (don't we all sometimes?)

A Flash from the Past

Time Machine

Back in 2012, I created my first ever blog, called Honest Acne Reviews.

It was a small Wordpress.com website that I built over the summer.

I spent no more than a few weeks on it.

At the time, I knew nothing about online marketing, SEO, or web design.

Out of curiosity, I checked my old blog again on Ahrefs.

I assumed it had long been forgotten in the "deep space" of the Internet.

To my surprise, this old thing still gets traffic today!

Here's the actual report by Ahrefs (this is the Site Explorer tool):

Ahrefs - Honest Acne Reviews

Now, I have not touched this blog since 2014.

Yet it still ranks for 300+ keywords today!

The top keyword is "exposed facial cleanser" (a skincare product that I reviewed).

Key Takeaways

I believe this example illustrates two important concepts:

1. Don't overestimate the competition (especially in a small niche)

Every time you search for something, Google tries to bring you the best available content. Relevancy, quality, and backlinks are just a few of the factors that Google considers.

So if Google decided that my old blog should rank for 20 or so keywords, then that tells me the competition for those search queries is quite low.

I used to think the Internet was an endless galaxy of information.

And for practical purposes, this is true.

But in a small niche, the level of competition is much more limited.

2. Some types of content can generate traffic for years

One of my core beliefs about online marketing is this:

Some types of content can remain relevant and generate traffic for years.

Not all types of content have this property.

Content related to trends, fashion, and news cannot remain relevant for long.

People want to read the "latest-and-greatest" about these topics.

It also depends on competition. The less competition there is, the more likely that older content will continue to rank well on Google.

Long-tail content is one of the key pillars of an online business.

October 2018 Highlights

Thanks for sticking with me through that long reflection (nostalgia, much?)

October was a productive month.

I completed the branding and design of my niche website AcneScarsAnswers.

I also published 6 full length product reviews.

It sounds simple but getting the brand and design just right is a real "Goldilocks" problem. Especially for someone with no design experience like myself.

I ended up doing a reasonable job with the help of some tools:

For the logo, I initially paid a designer on Fiverr.

But after some back-and-forth, I decided to do it myself.

Here's the final result:

AcneScarsAnswers.com Homepage

Content Creation Process

I want to share one last thing and that's my content creation process.

Why do you need a process?

Because good content doesn't just happen.

While inspiration plays a role, you can't count on being inspired all the time.

This is why writers often get "writer's block".

My first product review took me 5 days or so to write, mainly because I was toying with the page structure and figuring out how to use Elementor Pro, how to compress images, etc.

My last product review took me 2 days to write and far fewer hours as I've been gradually increasing the efficiency of my content creation process.

Here's my current process:

  1. SEO (15 min): check keyword traffic and competition on Ahrefs
  2. Product (15 min): check product details on manufacturer website
  3. Comps (30-60 min): read the top pages, noting the overall quality and keywords used
  4. Research (90 min+): includes brand and ingredient research (my products are skincare-related, your research will depend on your niche)
  5. 1st (Skeleton) Draft (90 min): fill in pre-made review template, update external URLs, edit, compress, and upload images
  6. 2nd (Content) Draft (60 min+): use a Speech to Text tool and DraftIn to create a working draft
  7. 3rd (Editing) Draft (60-90 min): edit for clarity, conciseness, tone, accuracy, and check the reponsiveness on mobile
  8. Final Check and Publishing (30 min): last check, update URL slug, write custom snippet for Google, publish and use "fetch as Google" in Google Search Console
  9. Tracking & Analytics (5 min): add the target keywords from step #1 to Rank Tracker in Ahrefs

This works out to about 6.5 to 7.5 hours per piece of content.

I use Clockify to keep track of my time.

I'm not 100% there yet but I'll keep refining this process going forward.

Next Steps

In November, I plan to:

  • Write 10+ product reviews
  • Conduct an editorial review of the content
  • Spend at least 25% of my time reading competitor websites and interacting with the authors (sharing, commenting, writing them an email). I'll eventually need to build backlinks and I believe this will be easier to do by first building a relationship

To Flexibility and Freedom,

Tom

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