Today’s guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast is Brandon Saltalamacchia. Brandon is a website owner and video creator who owns the brand Retro Dodo.
The conversation starts with Brandon explaining his background and how he built a website on the back of a successful Facebook group, which he sold for six figures with an impressive 55x multiple.
This led him to Retro Dodo (his current project), which he started two years ago.
Fast forward to today, the project receives page views in the hundreds of thousands, makes around 18 thousand dollars from display ads, and between 14-30 thousand dollars per month from affiliate income.
The interesting thing about Brandon’s approach is that he does things a little differently by taking a video-first approach to building a brand, which he explains during the interview.
You don’t get a step-by-step approach to launching a Youtube channel or any other basic stuff, but rather advice on thinking about video and adding it as a component to your website.
In addition, Brandon Saltalamacchia talks about how he is future-proofing his brand to last the test of time and offers lots of pearls of wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Some of the things discussed By Brandon Saltalamacchia include:
- The types of videos he creates
- Things that make his videos unique
- What makes videos successful
- Understanding the Youtube & Google algorithm
- His website and how it gets hundreds of thousands of page views by using video
- How to rank videos
- Keyword research
- How he got 250k followers on his Facebook page organically
- His Backlink strategy, which is different from the norm
- Building a brand that people trust and eventually want to purchase
- The mistakes people make when launching a video
- Ranking on Youtube for a product you don’t own
- Building a community with video
- Plus more
If you ever wanted to add a video component to your website and your online brand and discover the best way to go about it, this interview is perfect for you and will answer this and much more.
As always, sit back, take notes, and enjoy the episode.
Links & Resources Mentioned During The Interview:
This Episode is Sponsored by: Rank IQ and Ahrefs.com
Watch the full interview:
Read the full transcription:
Jared: Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bowman. Today. We are joined by Brandon Saltalamacchia.
Brandon: Hey, how are you doing? Thanks for having me on Jared.
Jared: I was so nervous about staying here last day. I forgot to, to say hi and welcome after
Brandon: that. yeah, I bet you cut out the, uh, the snippet before this practicing.
Jared: Yeah. Well, we didn’t record the practicing. I was sitting here going through it, like I was going to my ABCs.
Brandon: you, you nailed it. You nailed
Jared: it. I D nailed it, but, but Hey, you know, 80% is good enough. Right? So, um, Hey, I’m really glad we’re able to do this. I’m really glad to have you on today. We have a live website we can kind of talk about in the flesh and go through how you’ve built it.
Your success is, is really great. So, um, I’m really excited to hear all the details about how you built this brand that, that you have right now, before we dive in. Of course, though. Can, can you just bring us up to speed? Tell us about who you are and your backstory.
Brandon: For sure. Um, I’ve only really been doing this for three years, three years ago.
I’m still working full time for a media company in the UK. Um, but it all started with my love of, uh, campervans. I started a, a van life Facebook page, so to speak. I always had a background of creating video and social stuff. That was always what I was paid to do. Um, and so I worked with a lot of startups doing that and I decided to, you know, try it for myself, try and build something that brings in.
I think my target was something like $300. I was just like, you know what, 300 quids to spend on some beers, go out with friends. I’ll be happiest days with that. And, um, I started with a Facebook page. I knew how to grow that. I quickly grew it. So I think something stupid, uh, like a hundred thousand followers in six months, organic, just using video.
Uh, and when I got to that point, I was like, okay, I let’s look at some strategies on how to monetize it. So I came down the, the niche blog route, uh, and that’s when I started just creating small, uh, blogging content on there. And I was really, really bad at it, really bad actually, um, to a point where I didn’t even know what keyword research was.
So I had this really powerful Facebook page that got to. Quarter of a million followers on Facebook. I started creating the blog and then I started doing YouTube content and the YouTube content picked up. I think that got around 50,000 subscribers in about a year. So I would fly to America, uh, because you guys have incredible expos over there with huge four by four rigs.
So I went a bit gorilla. I just, I just said, you know what, I’m gonna take my camera, go over there, get a $500 return ticket and just film as much as I can. And I remember filming like maybe 15 to 20 rigs. I would just go up to people and say, Hey, I wanna film your, your rig, your camera van. Can I do a tour?
This is my blog. And it’s got like 30,000 visits a month and that kicked off the YouTube channel. So after about a year and a half, two years, I had this cool little brand basically. And, um, the pandemic hit, I was a bit strapped for cash and thought, you know what? I’ll see what I can sell it for. And the multiples were.
Ridiculous. This is the first time I started looking into how you could sell niche websites. Mm-hmm , you know, it was a typical, I think, like 30 to 40 times multiple. Um, and I managed to get around about 55 X because of the, the whole social branding and the whole, you know, the Facebook following the YouTube account.
I think our Instagram had maybe 60,000 followers because that’s what I was always good at the social side, growing it, doing a bit of growth, hacking collaborations, and it all tied into a really cool brand, but the SEO strategy was, was Bo. So it was terrible. 30,000 visits a month was, was pretty bad after a year and a half doing it.
But, um, I managed to sell it for six figures and that is what launched me to leave my full-time job and start what is now known as retro, which is my only website that I’m currently working on. So that’s basically it in a nutshell, really.
Jared: I have so many questions, uh, and I don’t wanna spend the entire episode on your backstory, but I, I, I have to ask a bit and I, I think it’s really relevant because so many people listening might have the opposite story of you.
They focus entirely on SEO. They spend all their early days, maybe keyword research, picking the perfect topic, writing the perfect article, all that you went about the exact opposite. I mean, you mentioned that your Facebook page was kind of your launching point and got to about 250,000, uh, followers organically.
And that was just three years ago. I mean, the algorithms had already changed pretty dramatically. At that point. It was really hard to get organic reach with, with Facebook. What was, if you could just give us a little, a little insight into what caused it to be so popular so quickly.
Brandon: It was quite simply snackable videos around about 60 seconds.
You probably remember, but like a couple years ago, your feed was constantly, you know, 60 seconds square videos with text over it, crappy music, maybe a little bit of a storyline. And that is what drove the, the, the growth really. I think I put out, uh, three to five videos a week to, to, to gain the, the follow followership.
And then I kind of force fed the articles through that. So I think it was somewhat silly. Like 80% of my traffic was social. Um, so I’ve kind of seen both sides of the fence, how you can build a brand without SEO. And now I’m on the, the complete opposite. I’m trying to build a brand with SEO now. Um, and social, as you can see.
Jared: Yeah. Well, clearly you had a, you said you had a background in video and you used video with the Facebook page. You used video then on the YouTube side of things, and then translated that into some, some of the, uh, some of the SEO traffic, they ended up getting what was successful from an SEO standpoint on that van camping life.
Like, was it, um, one to one, like some of the YouTube topics that did really well organically also did well organically or did, was it completely different? Were you writing completely different topics to get those 30,000 pages a month?
Brandon: Yeah, because of the large following I had to force. Social based articles on the Facebook page.
I did the typical, you know, you’re affiliate at your best X of 2020, um, your best van life products, the kind of, you know, the basics to getting the money. But what was big was the, the social side of it. So check out this $1 million rig that you can buy, check out this handmade campervan, uh, from someone who had only had $500 that kind of, uh, force feeding of traffic through social is what made it very popular.
And it did get some good links because of the YouTube channel growth. Um, I think we had a few big back links of people, uh, embedding the video, which was yeah, the, the million dollar camper van, uh, which were like huge RS with like six, six wheels and two living rooms and then three bedrooms. It was pretty crazy.
So that’s what kind of drove the brand and did a bit of SEO in terms of back links there. But in all honesty, I was pretty terrible. SEO back then.
Jared: So I’m curious. I actually, um, uh, bought a trailer within the last year for my family to go, you know, I’m wondering if I’ve watched some of your videos without even knowing it.
maybe, maybe I, I have to admit though I was not searching for million dollar trailers or a van . Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you talked about how the site ended up selling for a really great multiple, like he says, like 55 X, I mean, could you give us a ballpark in terms of the, the rough dollar figure you end up selling that for.
Brandon: Yeah, it was over a hundred thousand dollars. So I think I sold it for around about 120 grand, um, is what I is, what I got for it being open. Yeah.
Jared: That’s thanks. Thanks for sharing. That’s great. Your first, uh, your first project ended up in a six-figure exit that’s that’s I think anyone would take that at this
Yeah. yeah. In honesty, I didn’t know what I was building. I was just having fun and pissing about and getting to travel. We had a few big sponsors, uh, because we built a big social brand, um, and it all just kind of combined into a really cool side hustle. Um, but when I sold it is when I really saw the, the, the, the opportunity of niche websites and how to build a niche SEO powerhouse alongside.
A really cool social brand and that’s what I’m kind of building now. I’ve kind of, you know, put them together to, you know, invest in writers and really cool written content where I do the whole social side. I’m on the YouTube channel. I’m managing, I’m doing the Instagram stuff, so I haven’t outsourced everything.
So you’ve kind of caught me in a weird time where growth has been good. Um, but I do need to outsource everything. That’s on my plate. I still do a lot, unfortunately. Um, but I guess that’s the next step, isn’t it from turning it into a hobby slash so that you piss about with, to a sustainable passive business, I guess.
Jared: Yep. Yeah. It’s you don’t just wake up one day and it’s, it’s just snap your finger and everything’s running itself and. And whatnot. It’s a process. So, well, let’s talk about that, about that those early days of this site. And again, you shared the site, retro dodo.com. So if people are watching or listening, they could follow along.
If they’re not, you know, in the car at the gym, bring it up or, or bookmark it and come back to it. Um, and it’s, it’s a side back about gaming. I, I did my homework a little bit ahead of time. nice. But yeah. So what was the impetus for this site when you exited your last project and then focused on this, how did you settle on the topic?
How did you settle on what you wanted your next, uh, project to be?
Brandon: It was simply passion. I’ve always been highly passionate about games. I’ve been working in the gaming industry for. Probably five years. And that was my full-time job before, uh, retro Doda. I would work with big companies, uh, big brands like PC gamer games, radar tech radar.
I was doing a load of video stuff for them. Um, so I just naturally had a, a passion for gaming and more specifically retro gaming. So like the old classic game boys, one that I’ve got here for those watching on video, you know, the old game boy advance that kind of stuff. And I thought, you know, what the dream would to be, to, to piss about with game boys and get paid for it.
So I decided to create retro Dodo. I did have a personal YouTube channel that I was playing around with this stuff, doing unboxings. Um, so I thought, you know, if I can build a website. Growing traffic. I can then kind of interlink and rebrand my personal YouTube channel into that to create a social brand.
And, and that, I think I launched the website maybe two years ago. Um, and now it’s sitting around about half a million page views a month. Uh, and the YouTube channel just after the YouTube, channel’s probably a bit older, maybe five years. That’s at about quarter of a million subscribers. So it’s got a substantial following now on Instagram, we’re at about 60,000.
Um, so I’m kind of trying to grow the SEO side of it. And in honesty, I’m quite new to the, to the, the SEO side of building niche websites. Um, so it’s all very new to me, keyword research and stuff, but we’ve been doing that for about a year now, like proper keyword research and we’re seeing some, some decent growth.
Jared: Ah, so. Those numbers are, are, are, are amazing. They’re mind blowing. Um, and it sounds like you, you know, continue to bring your, your video excellence or your video background to the table with this site. Um, did, did, when you started this project years ago, was it another, another play, like the last one where you were focused on the video side of things and then looking to slowly build out the website in the SEO components, or did you take a different approach two years ago when you went into this from an SEO standpoint, as it, as it kind of relates to video.
Brandon: Yeah, my, my strategy is always, um, work on your advantages. However, you can have an advantage on anything. If it’s building a niche website or a social brand, do what you’re good at to, to hopefully beat the competition. And me working in the media industry with websites that have tens of millions of visits a month, I saw a, a, a back door to, to, and I saw what they’re not doing very well.
And that to me was community in the video side. So I just thought maybe I should try putting video first in everything I do now, uh, because not only is it my advantage, it’s what a lot of these media companies aren’t doing in my personal opinion. And that was the back door to grow traffic, grow community.
And hopefully get ahead. And I’m not saying, you know, retro is this huge website because it’s got, it’s got a lot more growth to, to do, but I really do think that me putting video first and building a, a social brand it’s what’s catapulted. Back links, awareness. A lot of people that want to work with us.
And, uh, recently we’ve, we’ve launched a book. So it’s, it’s all it’s I, I guess it’s not your typical SEO strategy that you you’re probably used to on this YouTube channel. I, I’m not very good at it. So I’ve kind of relied on my other advantages, but now I’ve over the last year, I’ve seen the, the advantages of putting SEO second, I guess.
And then seeing how that goes. I
Jared: was gonna say, seems, seems to be working let’s you kind of, you, you, you teased it perfectly. Let’s say that the typical person listening right now has a website and is looking to start to build out the video side of that. Mm-hmm , they’re looking to add video components for engagement, for social, build out a YouTube channel, et cetera, et cetera.
What are some of the mistakes you see people making when they are adding video on to a we’ll call it a niche website or an SEO focus website.
Brandon: Oh, that’s a good question. Mistakes. ,
Jared: I’m trying to think of, you know, launching that, launching that video brand and getting things wrong. And what are some things that people do wrong that they might be able to learn from you on that, that, that they can avoid?
Brandon: I think having a personality in a, in a video is, is undervalued. There’s a lot of, you know, text based videos. I see on these niche websites with, you know, your standard music, maybe nobody’s talking over it, you, you have to take a step above what the average person is doing. In my opinion, that’s something I’ve always done.
You, you see what the average niche website is doing and to succeed, you need to be one step ahead of them. And I think in video, if you can get your face on there, if you can get your voice or your hands, something along those lines to give it some personal touch, I would say that’s a good advantage to, to start with.
But it’s hard because a lot of niche website operators are quite introverted like myself and they kind of don’t want to do that, which is fair enough. But I think, uh, doing so with your voice or your face puts you one step ahead of someone who isn’t doing it, does that sense?
Jared: It does make sense. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s the, the blessing and the curse of, of, of building websites is you can hide behind them if you want, but yet at the same time, it’s also perhaps the greatest limiting factor you might have with your website’s growth.
Brandon: For sure. You know, it’s, it’s a scary thing, but bigger, the risk, bigger the reward sometimes. And I think if you are planning to launch, um, you know, a YouTube strategy, yeah. Try, try your face, try your hands to start with. And it’s always, YouTube’s good because it’s another, um, income, you know, on top of your, your display advertising and it’s also, uh, another place to hold your community.
If something ever happened to your site, God forbid you’ve then got YouTube to, to fall on as a, as a, is a yeah, it’s a backup.
Jared: Talk about how you’ve built community inside of video. And I don’t wanna jump, say community inside of YouTube, but maybe that is where your community lives. Mm-hmm , what’s, what’s, what’s different about building a community with video versus just publishing maybe really good or really relevant videos.
Brandon: It’s definitely the, the personal touch. I think what takes, I always see when you build a website is what does your average page look like? If it’s, if it’s all text, you know? Yeah, that’s good. It will rank. But then if someone, even just two, um, sections down from you has a video of them on it. I feel like you’re gonna remember them more than the previous one.
And over long term, perhaps you’re doing this, the building the website for five years, and you’ve got a couple hundred videos they’re gonna come back. And I think there’s that brand awareness, which video gives you an advantage in, and we’re in this time now where your, your typical article doesn’t really need a video, it probably doesn’t need a video to rank.
Well, we’ve seen it on, you know, the top, top results that a lot of these don’t have videos, but I feel like in the next five to 10, it’s gonna be quite important and giving it that personal touch is it’s just a human interaction, which causes a small bit of dopamine, which. Hopefully will help. Yeah. As long
Jared: as you, long as you’re a personality that, that, uh, that, you know, you present
Brandon: well and whatnot, as long as you’re good at it.
And it’s not like staring at a rock , that’s the
Jared: secret that, you know, maybe we don’t mention sometimes when we talk about these things, but you have to be somewhat mildly interesting, I suppose.
Brandon: yeah, yeah, yeah,
Jared: yeah. So you launch this brand and, uh, certainly brought a video focus to it, but also a, a SEO focus.
How quick was the ramp up? I mean, we’re two years in, you’re already getting 500,000 page views, which by the way, you’re downplaying your SEO skill sets, but. That’s phenomenal. You’re I took notes 250,000 subs on YouTube. You’re already at 60,000 subs on Instagram. What was the ramp up like, did this just hit right away or was it a slow build?
Um, talk about that first year,
Brandon: uh, the first year was really hard. Like I think like anyone launching a niche website, it’s just crickets, isn’t it? It’s, you’re just throwing darts, a dart board and nothing sticking, but that’s, I see it as that’s Google’s test that’s that’s Google’s test to get rid of 99% of the people that are just doing it for profit.
They want to get rid of the lazy people. And the 1% that, that get through the Google sandbox, uh, they’ll reward you with rankings. And the first year was terrible. The second year it ramped up considerably, uh, the recent product reviews, uh, update did really well with us because I’ve always been quite white hat.
I always think what. What I’m doing needs to please Google now. And it needs to please Google in five years. So I do everything. It takes me a lot longer. I’m probably paying a lot more protical than your traditional person. Um, but I feel like in the, in the long run it’s, it’s worth it. And the product reviews update did great things for our website because we had, you know, authentic video with the product and I’d rip.
Uh, the, the, the voice over for that to create an article, I do custom images. I would link it to not only, uh, other competitors, um, comparisons, but also ours, internal linking as well. Uh, just to make it look like, well, just to please Google quite simply. And I think the product reviews with the custom videos and the custom, um, images, Google read that and was like, Hey, this is authentic.
This is natural. They’re, they’re doing some good internal linking. They’re doing a lot of outbound linking as well. Um, I just think that that’s what helped us over the last probably year, I think.
Jared: So you gave us some snapshots of where the traffic is at, um, with whatever you’re comfortable. Can you share, um, some revenue numbers, and then maybe I can ask some follow up questions about, you know, what types of articles you have and, and, and, you know, the size of the website and whatnot.
Brandon: Yeah, for sure. So typically, so in October, I moved from Azo to media vine, which was quite literally life changing. I document it, documented it on my YouTube channel. Um, that took my blog from about $5,000 a month to, you know, five digits. So over the last six months, the average has been around about $18,000 a month just through display advertising.
Um, a lot of our revenue is affiliate stuff as well. Cause we do a lot of product based reviews and comparisons. And the video side, the YouTube side’s so good at driving affiliate commission so much better than your traditional article, in my opinion, or if that’s the, that’s the data I’ve seen, just cuz of the personal touch we were, we were talking about there and it gives us a bit more of a honest vibe in my personal opinion.
So, you know, the best month over the last six months been around about $30,000. The worst was in like February and I think overall it was about $14,000. Okay. So we’re in that, we’re in that ballpark,
Jared: in that ballpark? Yeah. What kinda affiliate relationships are you engaging in? Is it Amazon? Is it private affiliate?
Um, do you have a lot of private affiliates or maybe just one or two that drive the bulk of it?
Brandon: Um, it’s a bit of everything. Um, because we traditionally it’s eBay actually. Okay. Uh, just because of the niche I’m in retro gaming, you can’t go and buy Pokemon red. You just can’t. If it’s just impossible, you can’t go into a store and buy it.
So the only way to buy it is second hand through eBay. So a lot of our, uh, Philip stuff is through eBay. We do have a handful of partnerships, um, but I don’t tend to have any more than five just cuz it gets complicated and I can’t be bothered to, to track all that. Um, and then yeah, another large part is Amazon.
So I’d say Amazon eBay and a couple of custom, you know, third party affiliate stuff.
Jared: And you, you, you said YouTube drives so much better affiliate conversions than a website. Talk about that a bit more cuz I don’t think people maybe are attuned to that.
Brandon: It’s a, uh, yeah, so it’s a lot more of an investment for sure.
Um, traditionally, you know, SCA, you’ve got your long term kind of growth of traffic where YouTube’s typically this huge spike for maybe three or six months, and then it’s, it’s, it’s dead. But, uh, one of our biggest drivers is, you know, 10 best retro handhelds. I get them all in. I’ve kind of made the brand an authority on that, you know, game boys, anything new, um, and people will literally wait for the video.
They, they, they count down the days we’re doing premiers. They’re waiting for, you know, the, the half year, best retro handhelds that I do in June. And they all kind of wait for it. We’ve, we’ve kept like this almost like FOMO. Um, I dunno how I’ve done it in honesty but people will just, just wait for the videos to come out.
And I don’t know. I think a lot of my community are more video driven than, than. Reading in my personal opinion or the ones that stick around the ones that follow you, traditionally, you stick around with video and then you get the odd, um, person that comes in that have just kind of stepped through your door through SEO.
Um, the benefits there in terms of video, I think is just you, you have a higher click through rate in honest opinion. Um, and it has that, you know, personal, honest touch to it.
Jared: Yeah. It seems like if, if you’re, if someone’s watching you with a personality and you’re actually holding the product, it’s just gotta, it naturally makes sense.
It’s a better experience than someone reading text on a page, not necessarily seeing the product, not necessarily seeing the interaction with the product. It just makes sense. People are gonna be more engaged with what you’re doing and then the follow up action they want to take then maybe reading it on a, on a piece of paper.
Brandon: For sure. Yeah. It backs up your, your opinions of it as well for like, if I had this, if I was reviewing this handout here, and this was a bit too cliquey, it’s hard to show that in an article, whereas a video, I just did it then even in audio format that your audience probably heard that it’s just you, you’re giving people a more honest, authentic introduction to your review, which I think drive, well, I know it drives more clickthroughs and more affiliate commission.
Jared: You made me think of a quick little story. I took my car into the shop the other day. Just, I just picked it up yesterday. My, and one of the things that was wrong with ’em my seat was stuck. Just wish they wouldn’t make these automated seats. So I could just move my seat. Oh God. But yeah. Hundreds of dollars of LA later, but, uh, the mechanic who I’ve been taking my cardio for years, I, I actually trust.
And he, he said, yeah, I didn’t have to take the seat out to fix your, um, switch for your seat. He’s like the manual says to take it out. And I was reading a little bit online. It says to take it out, but then I just decided to pop over to YouTube and I watched a guy change the switch without taking the seat out.
So I just
Brandon: did that. There we go. There we go. I bet that save that’s my mechanic.
Jared: This is what he does for a living. Yeah. But he saw someone do it without him to take out the seat. And so that was engagement for him to do it that way.
Brandon: For sure. And YouTube’s coming out with chapters now. So what, whatever he was searching now, like how to, how to change a seat in the Google search engine.
Now they will literally take the snippet, the 32nd snippet of him taking out the chair. And sometimes that’s like the first snippet you see when you search these things. So, uh, YouTube and Google are definitely pushing video first for certain terms. And that was probably a, you know, a good example. Mm-hmm of how, how to take out the chair, bang, just some Geer on YouTube, slide it out.
And you, you don’t have to read the manual and find the bloody page. It’s it. All Google wants is to please the user, whether that’s videos, snippets, uh, audio, or written, and it’s our job to find the easiest way to do that through any terms and any pieces of content. And sometimes I think video is the best way to do that.
Jared: Yeah. Like you said, it probably did chapterize it probably went straight to it. Probably popped up 45 seconds later. Who’s probably like, oh, I know exactly what to do versus the, yeah. We all know the experience of trying to find something in a manual. Sure. When your dishwasher breaks or whatever. But anyways, so now that we’ve talked about video and talked about how great it’s, let’s actually do a little bit on your SEO strategy and what you’re doing with SEO, you said it was a slow build into SEO and you’re still kind of getting there, but what does the SEO component of, uh, of retro Doto look like?
Um, and, and maybe talk about how you find topics, how they relate to the topics you, um, you make videos about, uh, keyword research, those sorts of topics.
Brandon: Yeah. So as mentioned, I’m still learning. So everyone listening, please take this with a, a pinch of salt because, uh, just recently I decided to change the change, the homepage of our site and Jesus Christ.
We dropped about 20% traffic and we’re still sustaining that. So not sustaining, um, picking up the mess, uh, so to speak. So I do make a lot of mistakes. I’ve gone through life, you know, failing many times, but you learn from your mistakes. Mm-hmm . But traditionally my keyword research is, uh, and for my writers is to do 20% of what they want to write about.
And then 80% of the stuff I want them to write about. And all that is typically a lot of, you know, keyword research using a HFS, um, a simple Google search will give you lots of terms to write about. So it’s, it’s a mix of stuff I’m seeing, you know, a HFS, typically their digits are. Over exaggerated. So sometimes I want to target something.
That’s, let’s say a thousand searches a month and it comes in, you get place one and it’s a hundred. Um, so typically it’s quite simply that for the writers to have a bit of fun with what they’re writing, but then my keyword research is do this, do this, do this using HFS, and also being on reps. And also, you know, being honest is looking at competitors and simply finding a way to write better, even if that’s simply, you know, doing a similar structure, but embedding a video or a podcast or custom images.
It’s the small things which will just slowly, slowly add up. Um, I dunno if that’s the most authentic way, but I can imagine, you know, it’s as a strategy to see what your competitors doing, see what they’re doing poorly and just, just do it better. Mm-hmm
Jared: a typical article. Is it going to be kind of a, a buying guide, a Roundup review?
Is it, are you going after more informational topics? How, how, how long does these articles end up being when you kind of write them and create them the way you talk about.
Brandon: Typically, we always aim for about 1500 words. Uh, a lot of it is best X of 20, 22, you know, best PlayStation games, best Nintendo games.
But, uh, I really do think there’s this fine line of pushing too much affiliate content in Google, not liking it. So I try and go like 50, 50, maybe. So if, if you, if you post 10 affiliate articles this month, make sure you get it out. You know, a handful of news posts and then a handful of info, um, posts too.
Jared: You, you mentioned, you talked about how the affiliate updates, uh, the product review updates by that Google’s made have been very kind to you. I was gonna ask you if you thought it had anything to do with the amount of affiliate content you have compared to the amount of non-affiliate content, or if you think it’s just significantly more related to the type of affiliate content you’re producing.
Brandon: I think it’s a bit of both. I think Google does not like a website that’s 80% plus affiliate driven. I just think they, they, Google will look at that and know exactly what your intention is for that brand. It’s not to really help it’s to drive revenue. So you need to find this middle ground of being informational and, you know, driving your revenue up.
So I think there’s definitely a middle ground for that. In quality, it comes down to, you know, you, you, you could have two websites that have very similar written content of a review because typically reviews are quite similar. It comes down to personal preference, but when you get down to the tech specs, it’s pretty similar.
But the, the niche website, you know, creating custom images, maybe embedding a YouTube video, maybe even creating a YouTube video, they’re the ones that are gonna, they’re gonna flourish in my opinion, just because Google’s gonna see that, Hey, they’re taking the step extra there’s authenticity here. They’ve got the product in their hands.
They’ve got their watermarked images. It just makes sense. And maybe now we’re not seeing that, but I do think in the next couple of years, Google’s gonna push these review updates even further, and they’re gonna want authenticity.
Jared: Well, clearly you’ve done it well so far with the type of affiliate content you’re producing.
Um, let me ask you a question for someone who is looking to bring the same type of approach that you. To building a brand, I’ll say a brand because it’s more than a website. Like somebody wanting to build both video media content, along with a web based, um, article style content. Mm-hmm do you think it’s better is a really high level question.
You think it’s better or easier to kind of start with the video in mind and then pull the concepts of the article from the video? Or do you think it’s better and easier to start with the article in mind and then build a video from the concepts that you wrote about?
Brandon: So that’s great. This is, this is how I’m trying to work.
I’m trying to be more or, um, what’s the word efficient with my reviews and I actually start. With a video in mind, but I’m writing the script. For example, if I was reviewing this, I’d write a, a video script. Um, and then I’d basically turn that into the article. I’d also read it on the, on the, uh, the video.
So it’s almost, you’re killing two birds of one stone. Not only is it your video, uh, article your script, sorry. You can also convert that into word and you create the video. And then from that video, you take screenshots for the custom images. So you it’s, it’s very efficient when you get down to it and you start getting into the, into the, into the flow.
Um, but I always put video first, if I’m reviewing, for example stuff,
Jared: this might sound like a dumb question, but I’m wondering if people listening might have it in the back of their mind. Can you just take a transcription from a really great video you make and publish that and will it rank, do you think, or does it need that as maybe the outline the basis, but it really needs to be cleaned up and made into an actual article.
Brandon: I think you can. Yeah, I think we’re gonna see more of this over the next few years. People are gonna just make a video off the whim. Like this one, for example, you could take the transcript, but you will need to, you know, put the headers in the right place. Uh, put the images in the right place. Maybe do a bit of.
Clean up. And I think this is gonna be the most efficient way of creating both video and written format. And we’re gonna see this more and more. And I think the ones who really get into the flow of it, uh, are gonna master, you know, both a written article and a video that combined together are gonna rank really, really well.
Jared: that’s. Yeah. You’re right. You and stuff.
Brandon: What’s that it’s time consuming. It’s, it’s expensive. Like the camera equipment here. I know you can do it on your phone. Uh, but I do always, uh, mention to just, but put a little bit of money into like audio quality in a, in a cheap light, just to give it that, that little upgrade that it needs, but it is an initial expense for sure.
And that’s why a lot of people don’t do it. They would rather just, you know, write wherever they want and, um, doing video and written format together does keep you less nomadic for sure. If I wanted to create a video, I have to be in my office. I can’t be nomadic at all.
Jared: Right. Yeah. You can’t be sitting in a, a loud coffee shop with, uh, no, unless you’re a, a, a coffee brand, I guess.
yeah, yeah, exactly. That maybe it works. Um, Hey, so here’s another question. I I’m wondering if people have, um, mm-hmm do you think it’s possible to rank well on YouTube to, to, to have a video that both drives, uh, engagement and conversions, do you think it’s possible to do it without buying the act, all the product that you’re reviewing say, or that you’re making a video
So you want to rank for a product review without having the product? Is that what I’m hearing? Yeah.
That’s a tough one. I think now you could, in a few years time, no, you could, you could talk about it. You could do like a news update post that, go through their website and show ’em what you think of it. Yeah. You could rank there, but Google’s quite smart. Knowing in, in reading the frames of a video to, to understand what it actually is.
So I would say yes, you can now, but I think if, if you, we hop on a podcast again in a couple years, probably. Probably not. Yep.
Jared: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And obviously, I mean, we all know that, you know, clearly it’s, it’s easy to see if you have the product in your hands, you’re talking about the comparison or the specific product itself.
It’s gonna be better. Mm-hmm but I think people still grapple with the fact of, you know, um, do I need to actually buy the product, use the product before I make a video on it. And, uh, and whether even though it’s meant not be the best scenario, is it practical or is it an approach that could even work? So,
Brandon: yeah, I think.
I think people need to start putting longevity into the mix when they create a piece of content we’ve seen time and time again, people, uh, you know, write articles that rank well for, let’s say six to 12 months. And then all of a sudden an Ango update comes and all of their product reviews are gone. You know, you, you, I always advise doing content.
Well, yes, it might take bit of extra time. Yes. You might have to create a video, but I’m certain that if you’ve done everything, honestly, you’ve got the product in. You’ve done everything. How Google wants to, they’re gonna keep your, your article in the search results for far longer than these people using stock product images and stock tech specs, all that kind of stuff.
So mm-hmm, I always recommend always go one step further than the average person in your niche and you should, should be okay.
Jared: When it comes to the, um, when it comes to the content on your site, you talked about a community that you created with video. Has that video, or has that, uh, community translated over to, uh, anything on your website or is, is it harder to create community on your website, at least specifically with your brand?
Brandon: Oh, it’s really hard to build a community just for written format. And I understand why a lot of, uh, niche website builders struggle with it because it is hard. There’s, there is a connection, but a lot of people come to, to just read and, and they chip on, whereas video, you know, Instagram, they, they are there subconsciously to build a relationship.
And a lot of things have come from me doing or building the YouTube channel to core of a billion subscriber. It’s not just, you know, brand awareness. It, hasn’t probably really driven a lot of traffic at all, really. Um, but things come from it like a lot of back links, a lot of really good back links, a lot of connections.
I’ve met a lot of people in the industry, in the gaming industry, just through the YouTube channel, you know, I’ve been to their offices all around the world. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve shaken hands with some of the, some of the people behind the biggest gaming website. So there’s, there’s. That side of it, which builds connections and grows your business.
Um, and a community, obviously like we’ve just launched, we crowdfunded a book. Um, yeah. With what I ask you about that. Yeah. This was, you know, I’ve always wanted to build a book for people that are into, to retro gaming. And I didn’t think we’d be able to do it, but because of the community, we’ve actually driven over a hundred thousand dollars of, of backing before we’ve even made it.
So now that’s going into production. I personally put that down to the community. I could not have got that funding just through written format. I don’t think I, I can just, not that skilled. Um, but the, the pros of building a community through video and on socials, that there is power in a sense that you can do other things like build a physical product, like meeting people in the industry, um, that doesn’t necessarily equals dollars.
But I, I think in the long run, it probably probably will.
Jared: You mentioned that YouTube has been a great source of back links to your website. Now I’m curious how that works, cuz I mean, again, just I’ll I’ll, I’ll be the one to ask the, the questions that might come across as being a little dumb. But it seems to me like if someone is going to link to my video, won’t they link to the YouTube link, which doesn’t necessarily help my actual website or do I have that wrong or how is that play itself out in terms of back links to your.
Brandon: You’re right. It’s definitely not a dumb question. Cuz typically you just put in a, a YouTube video, but you want to create a VI and it’s hard. This is what we’re getting into. Like the expert video content. Now there’s your traditional
Jared: left. That’s fine. Field’s we’re 40 minutes in here. We can go a little expert.
That’s fine. Hell yeah.
Brandon: The, the people here are staying on now are definitely, yeah.
Jared: Anybody’s left. Wants to hear this kind of stuff.
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, so that you’ve got your YouTube strategy of building content for your articles in hopes that it, it ranks for. But there’s also this side of YouTube where you just want to create a buzz.
You want people to talk about something? So for example, oh, I don’t, I can’t think of as, yeah, I can, there was a fake PlayStation that I found on a, on a Chinese marketplace for $10 and I simply titled. I found a $10 fake PlayStation. Holy shit. You have to click that. Right? You have to $10. I want to give that to my uncle or my brother just to piss him off so you get that initial spike of people coming in and then your, your hope and your, your goal is for these other gaming websites or other people in your niche to link that and create a whole article on it.
That’s where you get the back link traditionally. Yeah, I would say 80% of people that embed your AR your video. They’re not gonna link to you at all. They’re not gonna. Add your video and then hyperlink to your website. But if you’ve got a really, really cool video that it is just a, an opinion or a talking piece, sorry, they’re likely going to, um, uh, link to you.
And that’s why I’ve had success. Some of the crazier videos that just don’t make sense. They’re a little bit click B. Yeah, I I’ll I’ll admit that. Um, but it gets people talking and hopefully it gets people, uh, linking to you. Cause all you really need is one person to share that on Twitter. And it just go to the right person who writes for the right website and bang.
You’ve got a 80 Dr. Link. It’s that simple. And I would, I would keep doing that. Just keep making cool videos in hopes that one day someone crazy at Huffington post will see it and link to you, you know? Right. Cause it’s worth, it’ll be worth it.
Jared: Oh, for sure. For sure. The, um, the approach you take the video is, is it a little bit like article writing where we, we know.
Generally speaking that say 80% of the articles we write won’t drive the majority of traffic, but one in five will hit, will rank number one. And so the majority of our traffic will probably come from 20% of our articles. I’m being very, very, uh, you know, kind of stereotypical here or very top of the funnel.
But with video, when it comes to your, your views, your watches, your subscribers, and how you grow that channel, is it similar? Are you just hoping to crank out some videos and, and one in five will just will hit? Or is it much more, uh, average in terms of the topics and the amount of, uh, views and subscribers?
They, they generate.
Brandon: Yeah, it’s definitely hit and miss. So I’ve been doing YouTube for, for, for six years now, probably. And I would never rely on it. I would never rely on it as an income just because their algorithm, it changes more than I have hot dinners. It’s all over the place. One week, something works next week.
You know, fidget toys are everywhere. You’re just like, how do I even keep control of this? So you’re right. If I had to put a number on it, I’d probably say one in 25 is when it pops. Wow. Which is okay. Is crazy. When you think about it, the amount of time and money and effort, it takes to make a video. But those 24 are slowly chipping at building a community.
And there’s more of like a higher chance of your, your one in 25 popping off. But. Yeah, YouTube’s a different ballgame. It’s, it’s, it’s very competitive, but when done right and done consistently in, in, in a cooperation with your website, I think that’s when Google will start really, uh, pushing your website further, just because your competitors aren’t doing that.
But if you’re solely doing building a YouTube channel hopes to drive a load of revenue, it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be hard. The, the plus side of YouTube, as well as sponsorships are, are far more, um, uh, easy to come by, uh, affiliate stuff you’re gonna, you’re gonna hit the now on the head there. Um, so, you know, there’s, there’s good and bad with YouTube.
The sponsorships is definitely something. I think the traditional niche website builder overlooks, and that’s the, the pros of building a brand. You know, cuz they may want to, uh, sponsor YouTube video and then you can package that in with your Instagram and your website and then you get the affiliate commission as well.
That’s when you get some serious, uh, just extra cash really
Jared: well it’s good feedback because I think, you know, for people listening to who might kind of dive into creating a YouTube channel or maybe some people listening to have dabbled with YouTube video or with video on YouTube in general and maybe done five or 10 and none of ’em had taken off.
I mean maybe, you know, don’t get too down on yourself. You just might still need to make that one video that goes somewhere. But like you said, you don’t really know which one’s gonna go somewhere until you publish say 25 and see which one it is that, that ends up taking off.
Brandon: Yeah. It’s always the ones you least expect and this and this, the, the same goes with a YouTube channel.
You know, you need to do it for at least a year. I say, uh, to really start seeing. Traffic. Um, not that there is a good at a YouTube sandbox there isn’t, but YouTube just likes to see consistency. So even if you could do one video a month, that’s a, that’s a really, really good start.
Jared: Mm let’s say that. Um, I’m putting myself in these shoes.
I have a website that, uh, I don’t have any video content on my own on, uh, and I, I’m looking to, to dive into creating a video side of this website. Um, what’s the best place to start. Should I. Just go and, and really do my own research on YouTube for topics that I should make, or should I go maybe to my top performing posts and build videos out of, out of my top performing post or maybe a different direction that I, that I didn’t even bring up, where would be the best place to start thinking about adding a video component to an existing website.
Brandon: I’d probably start with your top 20%. You, you might not wanna start on, on your articles that are ranking place one, but let’s say you’ve got a few articles that are in position two and three, and you just can’t squeeze anything more out of them, perhaps it’s best to go. Hey, I’m gonna take that written article.
I’m gonna turn it into a five minute script and then I’m gonna try and get, you know, B roll or if you’re unboxing something as simple down camera with you just reading the script is, is, is good enough to put your article that step forward in my personal opinion. So I would probably say, yeah, try and tweak your top 20.
Which might be, which might sound a lot, but you know, give yourself a good year or two to do that.
Jared: Yeah. And I didn’t even think about you’re right. All the benefits you could probably get back onto your actual article by just producing a really high quality video. That’s exactly on point for what your articles about that could be.
What pushes you from spot three to spot two from spot two, to spot one
Brandon: or something. For sure. And Google hasn’t came out saying, Hey, we know, uh, we, we link your YouTube video to your article that they’ve said they can only read if a video is in your article. They can’t technically read what’s in that video within your article.
So you could embed anything. But I really think if you want to, uh, look long term in the next two to five years, there will be some kind of connection there saying, Hey, retro, dodos written this review. And there’s a retro YouTube channel. That’s also had that review and I can see their embedded call.
That’s that’s good in our eyes.
Jared: Yep. Okay. Okay. Um, as we start to kind of come to a close here, and I’m just looking at some of my notes, um, one topic that we’ve danced around and, and, and talk, talk talked a little bit about, uh, from a video standpoint, but let’s talk about it from a more website standpoint.
That’s back links. You haven’t really talked about building back links. And so my guess is that you don’t spend a lot of time building back links. Um, how has the site grown from a link perspective? Do you spend any time on, you know, backlink building as it were, and you know, where do you think that has played into the success of the site in the last couple of.
Brandon: Yeah, good job. I, I completely missed that now. I’ve I’ve never spent a penny on backlinks. I’ve never, uh, tried getting them or outsourcing or whatever, sourcing them. Mm-hmm , I’ve never, it’s just been a hundred percent organic only because I haven’t needed to. I’m quite happy with the growth, admittedly. I dunno what I’m not doing.
If I was to, you know, source more backlink and do a strategy, maybe the website would be further on than it is now, but I haven’t needed to do it as of yet. And there’s there’s back ways like back doors to, to getting links, you know, like the book, for example, a lot of big websites picked that up and not only am I earning money from the book, I’ve got huge back links.
So don’t always think that, Hey, I have to spend X to get these back links. Think, think something crazy. You know, think like the $10 PS five or something. If you want to, if you wanna get a good backlink there’s ways to do it without. Spending your hard earned cash. I think it just comes down to quality content.
And I, I being in this niche for the past couple of years, there’s always been this, uh, thing of people, you know, trying to buy back links, but I just, I just haven’t been there. So I dunno if I’m the best person to ask that, cuz I, I dunno, I just haven’t needed to as of yet.
Jared: Well, your site is clearly doing very well and I mean, you know, it’s uh, yes, your video side is doing well, but I would, you know, clearly your, your content side is also doing well.
I mean, you’re in five figures from ad revenue alone and then, you know, you add on the affiliate side of things. So, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s an ever evolving topic. I always like to ask about it because people have very differing approaches to it. Mm-hmm but certainly we, you’re not the first and won’t be the last guest who’s come on here and kind of said the same thing, which is.
I’m not saying backlinks, don’t help. I’m just saying I haven’t had to do them yet. And I take that time and I put it elsewhere in an area. I think maybe has higher ROI.
Brandon: It’s hard because there’s no real answer to it. People, you know, when we, when I say, and I hear it all the time. Yeah, it’s organic. I don’t do anything.
I just get these back leaks. It doesn’t really answer the poor bugger’s questions. Who’s asking how the hell do I get more back leads? And everyone says, just build great content where I think you need to go a step further, create a cool brand, you know, maybe do the YouTube videos, invest in doing some, some crazy stuff.
If it’s like launching a book or a product in trying to get it on other websites, uh, uh, content there’s there’s ways around it. And unfortunately, I can’t give you a straight answer, but yeah, I wouldn’t shell out for, for buying a ton of back links. Um,
Jared: it’s a good distinction because. And I think it’s fair to state kind of.
So everyone kind of gets their mind around it. Like you’re not investing in a backlink strategy. You’re not building backlinks actively, however you are. And this is what the whole podcast interview has been about. You are investing on a more unique approach to building content and you’re going to great links to build content that is better than what’s out there.
Right. We’ve talked about the video, we’ve talked about the custom imagery. We’ve talked about the way you review the products. You’ve you’ve so you’re building content that is better than what’s out there. Thus attracting back links. Yeah. Thus, you don’t need to build back links. So don’t just listen maybe to Brandon saying, well, I don’t build back links.
Look how successful I am. Yes. But there’s more to that story. Right. And so for someone who’s just building generic content and it’s maybe ranking, but it’s not compelling. They might not have the same backlink success or storyline that, that you do.
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. And you, you, you, you said it perfectly, there it, the, the, if you want back links, the goal is to create a, an awesome or a crazy piece of content that gets these news outlets to talk about you or whoever, whatever that may be for, like, for example, if you are in the, the, I don’t know, you’ve got a blog about.
Dentist or keeping your teeth healthy. For example, I would create a video on buying a one, like comparing a $1 toothbrush to a $500 toothbrush. And just that in itself was gonna get people looking at it, clicking on it. And if you do a good comparison, perhaps someone on a news outlet will linked to that say, Hey, this guy has reviewed a $1 tur brush that literally breaks in his teeth, splits his gum open.
And now we’re looking at this $500 tur brush that makes you a cup of tea while you do it. Hey, let’s, let’s leak him. And all you’ve spent on that is $501. Admittedly, you’ve got the equipment and stuff, but I would put $500 on that video rather than going out and buying a back link. If you did have a back link budget, you know, there’s just, that’s me saying that because I’m quite a creative person.
Uh, and it would be hard for someone to think of that if they, they weren’t creative, I’ll be honest, but. If you want to get those back links, you gotta do some crazy stuff that gets people talking. And
Jared: now you have a $500 toothbrush.
Brandon: There we go. Yeah. Yeah. Paid for itself. And it’s making you a cup of tea.
Jared: And it’s making you a cup of tea. I mean, sign me up, babe. Where’s this, where’s this $500 toothbrush.
Brandon: You see, you’re clicking on the video already. I am.
Jared: I’m curious. Well, I’m just blown away by the idea that there could be a, by the way, there probably is a $500 toothbrush. I mean, used to be right.
All joking aside, but there probably is a $500 toothbrush. Well, I think that’s the perfect segue as we close out. Um, if you remember anything from today, Nope. Um, Brandon, this has been really good. Uh it’s it’s so cool to see succeeding so well in a platform that maybe we’ll call is a shoulder niche of webs, older niche of website building, right?
Like it’s everything we talked about is totally doable for a website owner as an additional strategy, but things that probably a lot of website owners are ignoring. And so, uh, this was a really fun hour that flew by really quickly. Thanks for all you had to, you brought in short, uh, Yeah, thanks for all you brought and shared.
Brandon: no worries. Like there’s, there’s definitely, you know, the time I spend on making videos and creating this content, you’re probably, if you, if your only goal is to make money and flip a website, I’ll be honest. You’re probably better at putting that into even more, uh, articles. But for me, I’m looking at building a brand that I can piss about with have a load of fun with, and hopefully it will sustain me and my lifestyle for five to 10 years.
And I think going the step forward, um, going above and beyond with YouTube and your custom images, maybe even starting a podcast that you do once a month, that’s gonna put you. In what I call a safe place, you know? Um, so if I had to give advice to anyone is just, you know, have fun with their, with their niche projects and just do something your competitor isn’t.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Well, the website is retro doto.com. Where else can people follow along with you? I know you’re active on Twitter. I’ve we’ve connected there, but where else do you wanna direct people to, to keep in
Brandon: touch with you? Uh, hit me up on Twitter. If they want any advice. I’m, I’m on open book, as you can tell with my earnings and my website, uh, and stuff.
I do have a YouTube channel that I just kind of document there. Um, okay. But yeah, Twitter is probably the best place.
Jared: We’ll put a link in the show notes for that. Um, and. Thank you so much for coming on. I, uh, very, uh, I’ll say invigorated is the wrong word. I’m very intrigued by the prospects of adding a video component.
And I think the most, the most intriguing thing, I think you said, and I know you’re being, uh, forward thinking it, but how it it’s really, not only do you get all the benefits of what you talked about today in the here and the now, but the future proofing concept of building a brand and the, the impact video can have on people.
I think that was my favorite part about what you talked about today. So thanks for coming on board and, um, hopefully we’ll, we’ll stay in touch and connect again soon.
Brandon: Thanks for having me. I appreciate.
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