Jamie I.F. started building niche sites just a few years ago, but already he’s grown from a hobby blog to a portfolio of niche sites that earn over $450,000 per year.
We recently had Jamie on Seeking Profit as our show’s first guest!
During our conversation, he told us about his humble beginnings as a university student doing in-house SEO, building a portfolio of websites, and optimizing conversions with his SPEAR framework.
I highly recommend you check out this episode on YouTube so you don’t miss out on a great conversation with one of the biggest names on Niche Site Twitter™.
But if you prefer the written word or can’t watch, I’ve written the best synopsis possible. Let’s get into it.
How Jamie I.F. Got Started with Niche Sites
We’ll get into some specific advice Jamie has for improving your affiliate content, but first, let’s look at how he got into this industry in the first place.
Before Starting Niche Sites
Jamie has always had an eye for online business, going back to when he was a teenager.
Before starting niche sites, he tried a few other entrepreneurial projects, including starting a clothing brand on Instagram and a non-profit business incubator.
Fun Fact: The name of the non-profit is where the I.F. in his Twitter handle came from.
However, it was during his days at university that he’d first learn about the impact that proper search engine optimization (SEO) can have on a business.
First SEO Job
During his third year at university, Jamie took part in what British students call their “year in industry.” This is where students leave school for a period to gain professional experience (similar to internships in the U.S.)
Jamie ended up working for a small but established media company that was publishing its content online.
This company didn’t place a focus on SEO or optimizing content for digital media. It was just publishing content as it always had.
However, most of the company’s traffic was coming through its homepage, and Jamie’s bosses were wondering if they could get traffic directly to their top pages instead.
This is where Jamie started researching SEO, implementing tests, and seeing results in real-time (remember, this was an established brand, so small changes had big impacts).
After leaving his year in industry, Jamie bounced around a few more projects and startups before putting what he learned into practice with his own niche site.
The First Niche Site
Jamie started his first niche site for the same reason a lot of us did: to create a side hustle that might earn a “beer-money” level of income.
At the time, he didn’t know that his site would someday generate tens of thousands of dollars per month. It was just a side project.
It took his site eight months to earn a job-replacement level of income, which for Jamie was about $4,000 per month. Then, in April 2020, Amazon cut its commission rates, so he had to build up to that level again.
During this time, Jamie says he was living at home, so he didn’t have the financial pressures some site builders may have.
But, like most successful bloggers, he put in thousands of hours alone in a dark room typing until his site was successful.
Growing From One Niche Site to $450k+/Year
If it’s difficult to make a full-time income from niche sites, then building a successful portfolio is near-insurmountable.
Here is how Jamie was able to build a portfolio of successful sites, along with some tips for expanding beyond that first site.
How Long It Took to Hit Milestones
Jamie’s first site took eight months to make job-replacement income, which is incredibly fast. He attributes this quick success to the niche he chose, which happened to be very lucrative.
Although it took eight months to make a decent profit, it took Jamie four years to get to his current level of success.
One reason bloggers don’t often hit six-figure income is that they become complacent. This is why you should always be looking for growth opportunities within your business.
The niche you choose also matters a lot. More on that in a moment.
How to Build a Niche Site Portfolio
Here are a few of Jamie’s tidbits of advice to expand beyond your first successful website:
Choose the Right Niches
During his interview, Jamie said over and over that he got lucky with the niche he chose for his first site.
He started a blog about one of his passions, thinking he could monetize it with ads. He had no idea that it was one of the hottest niches for high-ticket affiliate marketing.
When it was time for him to expand to more sites, you can believe he focused a lot on picking a niche with high-ticket affiliate offers, a good level of competition, and things he knew he could write about at an expert level.
Speaking of which…
Make Educated Guesses Based On Past Success
Building your second site should take about a tenth of the time as building your first site.
That’s because when you’re building your first site, you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s important to try a lot of things, make mistakes, fix things, and learn.
When you expand your portfolio, you should take your learnings and leverage them into a competitive advantage.
This doesn’t mean your additional sites will automatically succeed. There are too many factors involved for that to be the case.
However, it does mean that you won’t have to repeat the same lessons, so each site you add should have a greater chance of success.
Accept Luck as a Factor
Again, Jamie attributes a lot of his success to getting lucky with his first site. While some of that is just humility, there’s truth to it as well.
You can follow all the best guidelines and write great content, but you picked a terrible niche. Or maybe Google just doesn’t want to rank you above established publishers.
You could also have a thriving niche site, and then a major media company takes over the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your highest-value keywords.
Figuring out how to get luck on your side is a valuable skill. However, if you have poor luck, a robust portfolio of sites is a good way to protect yourself.
Improving Affiliate Content With the SPEAR Framework
During their chat, Jamie told Andrew and Emil about using his SPEAR framework to improve his affiliate content’s conversion rate and organic traffic.
Here’s how he breaks it down:
Search intent is the most important thing to consider when you’re writing targeted affiliate content.
You need to think about what’s going through a person’s head when they search for your target keyword and then deliver something that assists their situation.
The example he uses is “best vacuums for kitchens.” If someone is searching for this, then they have a very specific need.
If your list could be copied and pasted for any other vacuum article, then it doesn’t match their search intent well enough.
This is the most basic aspect of making sales. You need to position your product as the solution to a reader’s problem.
Jamie’s Tip: It’s more powerful to convey the downsides of missing out on something than the upsides of acquiring something.
So, for the kitchen vacuum example, you could talk about how without a kitchen vacuum you had crumbs sticking to the bottom of your feet. That’s a problem most of your readers will be able to relate to.
This will work better than telling people a vacuum will leave their floors clean. Without that personal example to connect them to the human experience, a clean floor is essentially worthless.
For the past few years, Google has put a huge focus on ranking content from sites that prove they have expertise on that topic.
There’s a lot that goes into EAT, but at the post level, you need to show your readers that you have actual insight into why they should choose a certain product.
The best-case scenario is that you’ve found a niche that you’re an actual expert in and you can leverage your expertise to outrank your competitors.
However, if you aren’t a “real-life” expert, you can use stats-as-support (SAS) to position yourself as one.
This is Jamie’s strategy of adding helpful stats to your articles to back up any factual claims you make. It’s helpful to your audience and shows Google that you’re legit.
Jamie’s Tip: You can use ChatGPT to instantly gather SAS for your buying guides.
The audience factor is similar to the search intent factor, but it’s the factor you use to break up your buying guide choices.
Note: You should never have more buying options than audience segments. Otherwise you’ll confuse people.
Going back to the vacuum example, you could have an option for people on a budget, people with kids, one for tile floors and one for wood, or a lightweight option.
The trick to this is to think of each segment of person who searches for your chosen keyword and provide a buying option just for them.
You may also be able to direct people to a better list.
For example, maybe someone searches for this keyword who works in a restaurant, so a list of commercial vacuums would be more appropriate.
Adding links to supporting content after your guide can help you convert people who would otherwise leave your site without a solution to their problem.
The last aspect of this framework is to build a rapport with your readers.
In short: make them like you.
Jamie tells his writers to be friendly, comfortable experts.
This means that you should write in a way that you connect with your readers, and with such confidence that they’ll believe any opinions you have about the products.
Writing with an almost flippant amount of confidence, with an assumption that what you say is correct because you said it, will allow your readers to trust what you say and focus on the personality of your writing.
We’re all in this industry to make money and gain financial independence, but it doesn’t hurt us to make people happy at the same time.
It sounds corny, but helping people is what affiliate marketing is all about.
Rapid Fire Questions
Throughout the call, Andrew and Emil asked Jamie a bunch of other questions that didn’t fit the main structure of this blog post.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Why Are U.K. SEOs So Prevalent?
Emil asked Jamie if he knew why it seems like British SEOs are so much more prevalent and successful than anywhere else. (If you go on niche-site Twitter, you’ll find a lot of industry experts are from the U.K.)
Jamie said that first, of course, British people are able to easily write in native English, even if it’s American English. That gives them a competitive advantage above most places outside of the U.S.
The other reason they are so prevalent is that the cost of living and salaries is lower in the U.K. than in the U.S., so companies are incentivized to hire them.
What Causes Keyword Cannibalization Problems?
After looking through Lasso’s blog content, Jamie found quite a few articles that are ranking for the same search terms, which is a huge problem.
Andrew asked him why our blog has such a problem with this.
Jamie said that in our case, and with a lot of other blogs as well, many queries that used to be separate are now combined into the same results.
So, when we wrote articles on “Affiliate Marketing Types” and “Affiliate Marketing Examples,” the SERPs were different, but now they’re combined.
If you are having trouble with keyword cannibalization, our best advice is to combine the two articles as best you can and use anything you remove to start new blog posts.
How Can You Use ChatGPT With the SPEAR Framework?
I already mentioned that ChatGPT could be used to source stats-as-support, but Jamie gave another example of how AI can help with this approach.
If your readers make it to the end of your buying guide without choosing a product, it’s either the wrong post for them or they couldn’t choose.
A comparison table is a great way to help anyone on the fence choose between products on your list. And ChatGPT makes it easy to create one.
Simply ask the AI to create a table comparing the primary features of your products and then copy the table into your article.
TIP: If you use Lasso, ChatGPT is a great way to decide which key factors to include in your Comparison Tables. Then, insert the tables into your posts and watch your conversions soar.
Jamie I.F. Is Now Part of the Lasso Team!
Jamie officially joined the Lasso team at the end of 2022 to head our marketing team. He’s already had a massive impact on improving our content marketing strategy, and we couldn’t be happier to have him.
When Andrew asked Jamie why he would take time away from his niche sites to work for Lasso, he said:
“To do a wider array of things and to be a part of something larger and more three-dimensional is such an awesome opportunity. Especially when it comes with affiliate marketing and such a talented team.”
We’re so glad to have Jamie on the team, and it made total sense for us to have him as the first guest on Seeking Profit.
If you haven’t already, check out the full episode for this week on YouTube. You can also find Jamie’s opinions and advice on Twitter or on his site Increasing.com.
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