Launching a website is hard enough, but launching 26 websites at the same time?
That’s what Ewen’s team has done. In a span of 9 months, they launched over two dozen websites in a variety of niches.
And they did it without a big focus on building backlinks. Their secret? Publishing high-quality content.
Today we chat with Ewen Finser on how he did it, including the people they’ve hired to make it all work.
What’s interesting is that you don’t have to hire a team of writers and project managers like Ewen has to make it work because you can replicate what Ewen is doing on a much smaller scale.
So if you’re thinking about launching your next content site and you want to take a data-driven approach, just like Ewen does with his sites, which has allowed him to rapidly scale his passive website portfolio fast…
Watch the video or read the transcript below to hear his insights.
Ewen Finser is an expert at launching content websites at scale. If you’re building websites from scratch, then take a look at the steps he took to launch 58 sites over the last year…
Matt Raad: Hi everyone, it’s Matt Raad here. I’m really excited today to have Ewen Finser back with us. Thanks, Ewen, for coming along.
Ewen Finser: Thanks, Matt. Good to be back.
Matt: Some of our readers may not have heard Ewen’s story. But it was just seven years ago that Ewen was doing everything himself from keyword research, building the website, writing articles, etc. Like many of our readers are doing when starting out on this journey.
Fast forward to today; it’s really exciting. Ewen now has a multimillion-dollar lifestyle portfolio, a content website portfolio, and he’s raised millions of dollars to do that.
At one of our recent bootcamps, we had Ewen come along and talk to our Champion students. The feedback from our students was just phenomenal. Ewen shared some really cool updates on what it was like to launch 58 websites last year.
Ewen: That’s right. Probably a little bit more if you include some for bootstrap sites. We didn’t launch them all simultaneously, but it was 58 overall.
Ewen Finser keeps it simple when building content websites
Matt: Today, we want to share some insight into what it’s like to launch 58 content sites and create a multimillion-dollar website portfolio. Also, what is it like to run it? What are some of the challenges you might face and some of the successes?
So, Ewen, I take it this has been a busy last 12 months for you and your team then?
Ewen: It certainly has! But in some ways, we are born for this. We’ve evolved over the last seven years, building the team, learning some hard lessons, and learning from failure, which is so important.
Over the past year, we’ve had a good stretch where we’ve really ramped it up. We weren’t doing anything crazy, but we were being ambitious, and we had a track record. And we had a framework, which is very important to use at scale.
Matt: Just to recap, these are primarily content sites. They all presumably have good in-depth information about particular niches. There are no e-commerce sites or anything like that?
Ewen: We typically do not do e-commerce. These are content sites (we call them content brands), and they’re getting traffic primarily from Google. We sometimes dabble elsewhere for traffic, but primarily it’s from Google search, and then they’re monetised with display advertisements.
We also lean heavily into affiliate marketing. And then we do some hybrid partnerships with brands. Once we get to a certain size, brands become very interested in custom packages, which gets really interesting.
But we mainly focus on those three legs, and we forget about the rest. We don’t worry about all the other fun and interesting business models outside of that.
Matt: It’s nice and simple.
What team do you need for launching content websites?
Matt: In essence, you have a big team of writers who write content, and you just post it onto these websites regularly?
Ewen: That’s correct. Obviously, the writers are the heart and soul of the company; we wouldn’t be anywhere without them. And we have over 200 writers in our Rolodex, with all sorts of different backgrounds and experiences.
“In general, we like to find experts in their field who happen to know how to write versus finding expert copywriters.” – Ewen Finser.
That’s maybe a little bit of a distinction, but I think it’s very important.
We also have a team of formatters and production editors working on getting the sites and content live. And then we have our top line editors looking at our SOPs, our content guidelines, more of our editorial substance.
Then at the very high end, we now have this new role of managing editor, which is essentially someone who has deep subject matter expertise in a given genre. They are responsible for a basket (or even a whole portfolio) of similarly themed sites. So, that’s our newest iteration.
Creating a Wall Street structure while maintaining a lifestyle business
Ewen: At the very top of our structure, we have me in our C-suite. We have Amy, who’s COO, and then we have Victoria, our chief revenue officer. We have fractional CTO support and fractional CFO. But at the end of the day, we’re not very corporate, every where’s a remote company.
So, we have these roles, but they’re unique to our content business and probably very different from what Wall Street thinks of those terms.
Matt: You all work from home, like we all do, and isn’t it funny how the world’s changed? Wall Street doesn’t even realise people like us exist. We run these multimillion-dollar businesses, just working from home and all our team is virtual. It’s a pretty cool way to live, isn’t it?
Ewen: It is, and it’s funny because we’ve been doing this forever. I’ve personally been doing this for years. And so COVID didn’t really change much. Everyone else had to catch up a little bit, which for better or for worse, that was probably an advantage for us.
How Ewen Finser picks a niche when launching content websites
Matt: I want to reiterate that Ewen is building these content sites from scratch; he’s not even out there buying them. These are brand new sites. Ewen picks a niche, puts lots of quality content on there, and does it at scale very quickly.
Ewen, when you spoke at our bootcamp, people loved your presentation. Our students asked lots of really cool questions, and some of them I wanted to share with our readers here.
Let’s start out with, how do you find your niches? What insights can you give us there?
Ewen: Picking a niche is one of those learned behaviours over time, so I’m going to say the answer isn’t necessarily easy. It’s not about how many searches per month in the niche. It’s more a framework and pattern recognition over time, having looked at many different verticals and compared to contrasted.
But broadly speaking, we look at three heuristics to gauge the potential of a vertical. We look at:
- Are there enough people searching?
- Keyword Difficulty
- Is there money in the niche?
Niche Analysis #1 – What is the Size of the market?
Ewen: This is probably where you want to start – are there enough people searching, and what is the size of the niche market?
This is important because if you pick a vertical that’s way too small, then doesn’t matter what the rest of the story is. If there’s not enough people searching, you might be wasting your time.
Niche Analysis #2 – Keyword Difficulty
Ewen: Next, you want to look at the keyword difficulty. How competitive is the landscape?
In this case you could go after a vertical that has plenty of traffic, but it’s been overdone. Also, look if there are many big media players in the niche. A lot of people say, “Oh, if there’s a big media coming, we’re not going to go into the vertical.”
We actually don’t mind that because we cannot compete with them. I’d be more concerned if there are other people like us who are content-first experts with a well-defined vertical that are already ranking.
So, we look at the keyword landscape, and we want to make sure there’s some room to manoeuvre.
Niche Analysis #3 – Is there money in the Niche?
Ewen: And then the final step is, is the juice worth the squeeze?
So, assuming you have the first two components, which is great (it’s probably a better niche than not), what is the value?
There are certainly verticals where you can get a lot of traffic. The keyword difficulty is low, but sometimes there’s not a good market on the affiliate side, or the ad CPMs (ad rates) are so low that it’s pennies on a dollar. Or there’s something around the vertical that makes it difficult for advertisers to put spending money behind it.
A good example might be here from the US, like the hunting space or any kind of firearms. There are ways to monetise that, but it can be quite difficult to get a good display ad network in place because of the restrictions on advertising. So you’re fairly limited.
That’s the third pillar to the stool – is the juice worth the squeeze?
BONUS Niche Analysis Tip – Is the Niche Evergreen?
Ewen: Then I look at more broadly zooming out. I spend a lot of my time digging through trends and analysing trends. Even within that, there’s some things to break down.
Google trends is my best friend, so I keep that open and make sure that I look back, 5 – 10 years, to see what this trend looks like? And I want to distinguish between a trend and a fad. A fad is something that could be on TikTok today and gone tomorrow – that’s a key distinction.
Another thing I look at is the content durability itself.
Just say we look at the tech market niche. There are a lot of opportunities to cover new products or cover new problems that are emerging. However, it becomes very outdated very quickly. So, you have to go in and update content every 6 – 12 months.
If you think about your iPhone or something like the current version is only good for a year or two, then naturally, that will die off over time. So, I call this the content shelf life. And so that’s another factor we look at, and it’s a combination.
It’s almost like a Venn diagram, rather than this perfect, golden vertical. It’s very rare to find and there are usually shades of grey, but I like to find as much as I can on the positive end of those analysis items.
Ewen Finser shows how to be an expert when launching niche content
Matt: At the bootcamp you were saying to us that now you are very much thematic.
You don’t need to give us the exact niches you’re in; but you go into themes, and it seemed to me that there’s nothing particularly unusual about the themes you go into. They’re all the standard themes that we always see out there in content sites.
Ewen: There’s nothing too fancy. And there are only so many broad themes out there that you can cover. It’s not like it’s a big secret, but how we cover them at the micro-level, that’s the secret sauce.
We think about it using big, medium, and small topical focus. At the very broad end, these are where the big media companies play and we don’t really aspire to be a big media company (and we can’t really be, we can’t compete with that level).
There are big media companies out there like Dot Dash, Spruce Home, or one of the Red Ventures companies etc. There’s a whole slew of those big companies covering health, credit cards, personal finance, pets at large etc.
It’s not too late to launch websites from scratch. Here’s how Ewen differs his niche from big media companies…
Ewen: But what we do is zoom in a little bit. Rather than talking everything about all pets, you probably want to niche it down to dogs. But even then, I think dogs is a fairly broad vertical. We probably want to niche it down further to something like German shepherds etc.
You want to be that expert authority for your vertical, so when someone reaches the site, they think, “I’m in the right place. I’ve arrived and I’m not just in this general content farm.” Big media companies do a fairly good job of gussying that up, but their frame of reference I would say is magazines. It’s what’s on the coffee table.
Matt, your readers all have an advantage here because we can go small and because we’re still in that later stage, e-commerce adoption.
There’s still plenty of room to run. What might be a micro niche today, in 5 – 10 years, could be a huge market.
Matt: That’s brilliant for anyone reading this who’s just starting out, or if you’re looking at building a brand-new website.
Ewen was telling us at the bootcamp that for his last 30 sites, a bunch of them were just little, tiny microsites. And when you look at the results now a year later, it’s really exciting.
The results of launching content websites in bulk
Matt: We all know this is not a get rich quick thing, and that this is obviously a slow burn strategy. You’ve got an awesome data set now, and basically, you’ve gone and launched 58 microsites last year, right?
For the sites you’re allowed to talk about publicly, let’s look at some of the results. When you look across that portfolio of microsites, how’s the traffic gone and what are the trends and monetisation like?
How Ewen creates a framework to measure what works when building content websites
Ewen: I’ll start off by saying that we’ve been a very big believer in using frameworks or mental models since the beginning. And a key mental model I talked about in our last interview is from Jim Collins’s book, “Good to Great”.
I love almost all of Jim’s concepts. The knowledge out there is very simple. We just internalised it and modelled it for our corner of the world of boutique media. We particularly latched onto this idea of fire bullets and then cannonballs.
This concept is great for personal conviction because how do I know which site is going to be successful? I have a good inclination, so there’s this yin yang of creative chaos where I’m finding ideas and putting them through the assembly line of analysis.
But it’s this creative process on the one hand and this empirical process on the other hand; those things often seem like they’re in contradiction. One of the key things I learned from Jim Collins (and elsewhere) is that two things can be true simultaneously.
You need to find a good vertical, believe in it, and have some data. So, we basically said that when we launched these portfolios, we’ll launch them in mass and launch them simultaneously so they form a data cohort.
So, what are the results from launching a portfolio of 26 sites in the first 12 months?
Ewen: As your audience probably already knows, there’s no exact science to SEO. Actually, there is, but Google’s never going to tell us. There’s a whole industry around trying to interpret what Google thinks and what they say, but what they actually do can be very different.
So, we basically said, “Look, let’s call spade a spade and just see what happens. Let’s wait for Google and our users to respond to the product that we put out there.”
We do it all at once and we give them similar capital inputs. Each site gets roughly the same amount of capital. We’ve set around $15,000 – $20,000 worth of content, which gets us around 120 to 150 articles, and we do that in the first three months across all the sites.
In May of 2021, we launched a portfolio with 26 sites. Then this past November, we launched another portfolio with 32 sites. Overall, we have 58 sites, but obviously the November launch is still very early. It’s still probably the sandbox territory.
But if we go back to the first launch in May – for those 26 sites, the first 3 – 6 months there were only a few thousand visitors. And then, starting in the fall, those numbers started to pick up. By August, the portfolio of 26 sites was doing around 7,000 page views a month. So that’s not a whole lot, but then the numbers start to rise:
- September, we got up to 11,000.
- October, we got up to 19,000.
- November, we hit 38,000.
- December was 75,000.
- January, we hit about 130,000.
So, that’s trending up. We’ve already exceeded that number for February, which is a down month (i.e., a shorter month).
Matt: Wow, look at that growth, that’s exponential growth with brand new sites.
Ewen focuses on launching niche content for his sites rather than focusing on backlinks
Matt: I want to share something with the readers that you shared at the bootcamp. Ewen doesn’t focus on backlinking, that’s just mainly full focus on good content, isn’t it?
Ewen: That’s right. We do have some backlinking techniques, like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), and some PR techniques etc. But the focus is really to get the site indexed. It’s not to build this domain authority monster.
Some of our sites are domain authority, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11. These aren’t sites that are crushing it. Just looking at the backlinking profile of our sites, they would not look like successful sites.
We don’t have anything against backlinking, but we’ve focused our attention on content and content first. We’ve never gotten to the point where we need to build this giant operation around backlinks.
And maybe that’s partly because we’re also focusing so much on the niche identification, picking the right market so that we don’t have to rely on backlinks. We’re not trying to compete in the mattress or personal finance spaces. We’re not going after these super competitive and cutthroat markets.
Matt: This is perfect, Ewen. For all our readers out there, Ewen is doing exactly what you guys are doing – just at scale. These are the little start up sites that all of you should be building. You should be building these websites with a small domain authority of 2 – 11. And it’s just content.
And Ewen, it gives us an awesome study set because now we know what happens when you launch a site rapidly. If you’ve done good keyword research and created 120 to 150 articles, the traffic has gone exponential.
Ewen’s blueprint for building content websites
Do you want to build a lifestyle business? See how Ewen launched 58 sites in 12 months…
Matt: So, this looks really simple, but can you talk to us about the reality and the challenges of getting to where you’re at?
I’m sure that you were probably like our typical student building one to three websites seven years ago. And launching 30 websites rolls off the tongue right – it’s just based on content and sounds like a walk in the park. But what are the actual challenges you face when you start scaling to this point?
Example of student launching niche content – one site at a time…
Ewen: I’ll say this upfront – it’s not like how we’ve built our company is not the right way. It’s just ONE way, and everyone’s different. And I look at some people who just have one or two sites that are going gangbusters and I’m like, “Wow, I’m a little jealous because we have to manage all these sites!”
Matt: That sounds like our student Lisa at the bootcamp. She just focused on one content website and now earns seven figures.
Ewen: Lisa is great. And I think that approach is realistic for a lot of people. But that is such an important point. I remember you asked Lisa if she had a couple of writers, and she said, “Actually no, I do most of it myself.”
And to me, that was surprising. But I think that’s true, this is a business that doesn’t have to scale to be successful, but it can scale and be quite successful. So, it’s this choice and it’s not to take the red pill or the blue pill. I feel like you can take steps to outsource certain things and do the things that you enjoy.
For example, the thing that I still really enjoy is pattern recognition and niche identification. And I love doing keyword research. We have some data analysts that support that effort, but if I did nothing else, I would be doing that if that makes sense. Regardless of what industry I was in, I’d be looking at trends and doing a lot of reading and research.
So, figure out what you want to do. For some people that might be doing video, or it might be doing the branding or the design; whatever it is, hold onto those things. I didn’t want to create a company where I was in a seat where I wasn’t happy at the end of the day.
So that’s my disclaimer.
When do you need to start hiring a team?
Ewen: But then in terms of the scalability question, typically, the journey is going from one site to maybe three sites and that’s somewhat manageable. I think probably at that point, if you want to grow further, you will start looking at freelance writers (if you haven’t already), and that’s a fairly well-defined market.
You can go out to Upwork, go on the job boards, and can certainly find other writers. But it does introduce more complexities around negotiations, rates, quality control, project management, etc.
Even if you’re just managing two or three writers, they’re freelance, but it is their direct report to you. And so, some of your time starts getting taken up by management. When describing our own journey, that’s where I did everything myself.
The first thing I started outsourcing was the content, finding other writers who could fill the gaps. And then it got to a point where I needed someone to help me oversee all these writers. We started bringing in what I’d call editors (project managers or content managers) to help me.
They would help me get the articles out, get them published, and respond to all the different writers. It depends on the person, but they could probably do that for up to eight to ten sites. You also want to have some management support, but mostly you need a bunch of writers and just manage those sites.
The moment Ewen transitioned into Lifestyle Business
Ewen: But then what I experienced is a breakpoint that is still a lifestyle business to me. When I reached that point, I didn’t have to be in the office, I could take time off, and I could pursue my other interests. What I realised is that I actually really enjoy doing this, and there is so much potential.
What if we could do something a little bit more and pretend to be a media company? With this in mind, the next layer was bringing in formatters and editors. So, we built a rung below the management level where they’re moving the articles from the receipt from the writer to getting them live, which is a whole process in and of itself.
This role revolves around checking the images, the titled tags, the keywords, the spacing, the formatting, adding links etc. And so that was with a lot of VAs or junior editors. Some of them are overseas so you can arbitrage that price a little bit.
Ewen tried buying websites, but got more success from websites from scratch
Ewen: All of that growth probably got us to 20 sites or so. Then in 2017 is where I was connected to different capital sources. That allowed me to think a little bit bigger. What if we scaled it up even more?
We had actually tried to make some acquisitions; some of them worked out nicely, but others didn’t.
That was my Waterloo in a way. It was the moment where I was like, “Oh, I always thought acquisitions were the way to do it.” But having had a couple of experiences where they declined significantly, I realised there’s some advantage to how we were doing things.
If only we could systemise that, if only we could create a scalable system around it. So, we started building on the additional layers of HQ support staff. This consists of the COO, the operations team, the monetisation team, and the design team. Now we can start cycling through these assets and they have a maintenance schedule.
The problem with Bootstrapping…why Ewen’s business is now completely data-driven
Ewen: Once you get above 20 to 30 sites, it’s not just direct managers of the content; you need people who will do the things you would be doing. Thinking about the brand, thinking about the design, the messaging etc.
And so, we launched this pilot program in 2019 with 10 sites. The purpose was to prove this model – can we build content sites at scale? I had never built 10 sites at once. I had bootstrapped and I think that’s what a lot of people do.
The problem I had with the bootstrap success story is that yes, it was successful. And I looked at the end result. But when I tried to go back and identify why it was successful, I didn’t quite know. I knew the keyword research was good. I knew that the content value was there, but I couldn’t tell you why things came or fell the way they did.
So, I wanted to create this cohort, this data-driven process, where we could literally tell the story of early growth. We could basically say, “This is what the life of a site looks like. And we know this is relatively true because we’ve done it across 10 sites.”
We’ve done across 26 sites and now we’re doing it across 32 sites. And so, our data fidelity gets better as we do more and as we analyse the data.
Get innovative – How Ewen created the conveyor belt to streamline processes even further
Ewen: Bringing us up to speed today, we now have our senior team, operations, COO, and we have our CRO etc. But, we’ve also built tech infrastructure to support all of that. We now have something that we call the content conveyor belt. It is basically a centralised WordPress login that manages all of the sites there and the content.
Basically, a writer can log in and they’re tagged to certain sites. They can only see the articles that they’ve been tagged to, and they all have custom rate cards for different sites. For example, a certain site’s more technical so it has a higher rate card.
The editors can also log in there. It’s basically just a WordPress WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor. It’s just like a WordPress dashboard. Once they’re complete, it pushes that via API to the right site. And so it’s already drafted, it’s already formatted and it has a payment utility.
Then we can just do one mass payment. One click of the button and we can export a spreadsheet into PayPal. We can pay everyone (hundreds of writers) simultaneously because now we’re publishing thousands of articles a month.
Even a small friction point (like payments) takes time. And if we didn’t have this in place it would take three days.
Matt: Wow, so you are managing over a couple of hundred writers. And like you said, even just small friction points can magnify.
BONUS tip when scaling websites from scratch
Matt: Your journey has gone from playing with 1 – 3 sites to transitioning to a lifestyle business, growing from 3 – 10 sites. And then in 2019 is basically when you went big at this. So, within the space of three to four years, you are now running and publishing thousands of articles from hundreds of writers. That’s very, very rapid scaling.
Ewen: Well, it’s funny because it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. But yeah, when you say it like that, it does seem like it scaled rapidly. Honestly, it’s all thanks to our team.
And I think another trick to scale is letting go. That’s probably where a lot of solo operators have a problem. And I know it’s like letting someone else take care of the baby; it’s nerve-wracking! What if they do something wrong? What if they make the wrong decision? And the thing is that does happen, but when you empower other people, it’s like an exponential extension.
Just today, I was overhearing a conversation in our Slack group. I was on the fly on the wall and didn’t say anything. But our team of experts were talking about one of our sites and they’re brainstorming article ideas. They’re brainstorming branding and where are the gaps in the market etc. And at the end of the meeting, they had a whole list of things that I would never be able to find in a keyword tool.
And so, it’s not just delegating, like, “You shall do this task.” It allows people to take responsibility and be innovative and creative within the business. That’s such a big, more philosophical thing, but letting go of that ownership that you personally have over everything.
Attracting the right team when launching content websites
Matt: And obviously, you’re good at hiring. I guess that’s one of your superpowers, you’re a super nice, humble guy. You attract in the right kind of people to work with you who are A-grade players.
I’m guessing to be able to scale a business to that size that quickly, your biggest thing is the people you are building your team with.
Ewen: Yes, and I will say it’s interesting when we look back at the types of people we’ve hired, we’ve attracted people from non-standard backgrounds. That’s the one thing I was just talking about with Amy, our COO, about the people on our team. The resume does not read “media” or “professional blogger” etc. We’re taking creative, passionate people and we’re offering them a seat at the table to be creative and do their thing.
Another key thing is that there’s no marketplace for what we’re doing. There are some elements of it, but there’s no job board specifically for us. There are platforms like Upwork, but that’s not really built specifically for us.
Our industry is still being created as we speak. And so, if I hired someone from the New York Times, they’d come in and be like, “What do you mean you want me to do all that stuff? This doesn’t make any sense. It does not translate.” And I think that’s why we have such an advantage as these solo operators because we’re coming at it from a different frame of reference.
Matt: And you are driving that.
Where does Ewen Find His Writers?
Matt: So, I know everyone’s going to ask this because at that scale, where are you finding your writers?
When you start out, Upwork or Freelancer is fine for finding writers. But where do you go at your scale? How are you finding so many writers?
Ewen: Well, it’s still a challenge. It’s such a big challenge that we’ve even created a little service that we’ve spun off called contentteams.io, helping other e-commerce brands build their own content teams.
Yes, there’s Upwork, there’s ProBlogger, and there are other places you can post. We’ve found diminishing returns from those places. We still post there, but looking at the vertical that you’re in or want to go in holistically and it’s fairly simple, but it’s not necessarily easy.
It’s finding where they’re hanging out; certain verticals are on TikTok or Facebook or Reddit or Forums. For one of our verticals, I’ve even put ads on Craigslist. It really depends, but as far as the mechanics, we don’t necessarily want to hire expert copywriters.
We want to hire experts who can also write. And so sometimes that means finding someone who doesn’t think of themselves as a writer from a non-traditional background, and helping shape them. We call it a content bootcamp where we put all our new writers through a crash course because it’s not rocket science. You don’t need an English degree in the modern age to write online.
For example, if you look at an auto mechanic, their day job is fixing cars. They’re probably going to be fixing cars on any given day. So, how do you find those people who are willing to do a little moonlighting (writing for us) and able to share that expertise and communicate that expertise on our site.
Ewen Finser grows his lifestyle business even further by raising capital
Matt: You’ve obviously raised funds to launch your websites. Do you get a lot of pressure from your investors? Do they understand totally what you are doing? Do they expect quick results? What’s it like working with investors when you’re doing such a slow burn strategy?
Ewen: Well, it’s not for everyone and we do spend a lot of time. I don’t come from an investor background, but I spent a lot of time really thinking about that question, like who should we have onboard?
To be honest, we’re not raising from Venture Capital or even from Family Offices. Most of our investors are other successful operators or people who come from a different line of work. They have offline success and are looking to put their money to work.
It’s about setting those expectations upfront, clearly telling them, “Look, this is a long game; it isn’t immediate.”
I think what we’re doing is saying, “Look, we’re going to take a little bit longer, but we’re going to grow these from scratch. And so, it’s a two-to-three-year time horizon, and you’ve got to be comfortable for 6 – 12 months. You’re not really seeing much, but we think it’s a better risk adjust to return, and these assets are not going to go to zero.”
It’s really a question of, is it a 2x, a 3x or a 10x return? And so that’s what we’re trying to solve for.
The importance of remembering your Why when bringing investors onboard
Matt: So, these are obviously silent investors. They trust you; they give you a pool of money, and you’ve got that pool of money to work. You go away and work your magic. But, it’s not like you’re reporting to a board of private equity or anything like that?
Ewen: No, it’s actually a fun structure, and we keep it fairly straightforward. It has to be accredited, of course. I send out quarterly reports, more of a letter if you will. And we do have analytics, and we share financial results etc.
But it’s not this high-pressure thing, which is key because otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. It’s important to remember who we still are at our core. We started as a lifestyle business, we still maintain that element, and we’re not looking to IPO next month. That’s not our end goal.
What’s next for Ewen Finser when building content websites?
Matt: Wow, well, what a journey, Ewen. I bet when you started out seven years ago, you didn’t think you’d be sitting here today. Now you’re managing people’s money with a multimillion-dollar website portfolio.
What’s next for you over the next few years? Do you have bigger and bigger goals, or do you just rinse and repeat? What are your goals?
Ewen: First and foremost, we want to have fun with what we’re doing. We want to become the main experts in what we’re doing and to love the process and the craft. That’s really important for everyone, from what I do, down to the writers, to really enjoy the process.
I wish I could share the Slack messages we get on a daily basis from writers being like, “Man, this is amazing. I’ve never had someone ask me to share my personal opinion and my story.” A lot of times I feel like in our industry, content is treated like a commodity and it’s not just a commodity. It’s the people behind it.
And I think Google’s catching up to that too. It’s not just what’s being said, it’s who’s saying it. And so if we can create a vector for experts to communicate their knowledge (or domain expertise) and become better at building and managing websites, we’re going to take it as far as we can.
If we can get to 50 million page views a month, that would be great in the next five years. But we also don’t need to get there. We’re happy just doing what we’re doing and enjoying the process.
Matt: Awesome. That is unreal. Thanks so much for that, Ewen. It’s just fantastic to hear your update. We’d certainly love to hear another update in another year when you build out your next 50 websites. But thank you so much for being so sharing with our community and for coming along to our Champions bootcamp.
Ewen: Thanks, Matt. Really appreciate it.
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