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"Chris helped me grow my blog's monthly traffic by over 250%." -David Bernett

How I Grew RankXL From A Side Project To A 6-Figure Blog In Just A Year

By Chris Lee 136 comments

2015 was the best year of my online career. By far.

I learned and accomplished more last year than all of my time spent in internet marketing combined.

The 2 major highlights being…
1. Growing my Adsense niche sites business to over 5-figures per month.
2. Starting the RankXL blog, and reaching 6-figures in the first 13 months.

While the spotlight of my blog posts have always been on my niche sites, I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately if I could talk about how I grew the RankXL blog.

It’s not something I really talked about before, but RankXL just recently passed its first birthday a few months ago so I think the timing’s right to do a one-year(ish) review.

Why start a blog in the first place?

Having a personal blog has always been something on my “to do (someday)” list. I always thought it would be cool to own a blog with my own name behind it.

I love to write, and never grow tired of online marketing, but I could never find the time or any strong motivators to start one.

Until December 2014.

2014 was the first full year I worked for myself online.

And while it was great to work from home, and have a web-based business I could work on anywhere and anytime, I quickly took that freedom for granted and started slacking off.

Before I quit my job, I worked harder than I ever have in my life.

About 6 months after I quit my job, I hate to say it, but I was lazier and less focused than I ever have in my life.

I needed a serious kick in the butt.

focus

Since I discovered internet marketing, my goal was to hit $100/day. That was the number I figured would allow me to quit my job.

And I spent all day and night thinking about, and working towards that target.

But it wasn’t the thought of making $100/day that made me work so hard. It was the dream of quitting my day job.

Once I hit that goal… I foolishly kind of felt like my work was done. I didn’t have that drive anymore to reach the next stage.

I didn’t know what the next stage even was.

I lost focus on what I needed to do to grow, and there were many days where I would sit at my computer all day long, but not get any actual work done.

And months went by before I finally realized that if I continue down this path, it would eventually lead to me having to find another day job I hated.

Setting new goals, regaining focus

At the end of the year, I decided I needed to set new goals.

I needed goals that would motivate me, goals that would change my lifestyle if I hit them.

I’m not a very materialistic person. The thought of buying a Lamborghini isn’t going to motivate me to work day and night to grow my business.

But a monetary goal with a specific plan to use it to improve my lifestyle? That’s something that would drive me.

Long story short, I did a lot of things towards the end of 2014 to help regain my focus and improve my productivity, and one of them was starting the RankXL blog.

It was to act as a self diary, somewhere I could write freely about my projects and the things I was working on.

And that’s how RankXL was started.

(The first version of RankXL back in January 2015)

first version

I had no idea at the time that it turn into such a large part of my life and business.

A year of learning, experimenting, growing

2015 was a year of learning.

Although I’ve been working with SEO and niche sites for years before starting RankXL, it was my first foray into the world of blogging.

The business model of this blog (and most blogs out there) is very different from what I was used to doing.

Before starting RankXL, everything I did revolved around SEO and Adsense.

But with RankXL, everything revolved around list building, and setting up sales funnels using an email autoresponder.

Just a year ago, I had very little experience with email marketing. I had never done anything past sending a broadcast through a free account on MailChimp.

I had never set up an autoresponder, I had no knowledge of what a sales funnel was, and I had never taken list building seriously.

Fast forward a year, RankXL now has 7,000 email subscribers, and I’ve optimized my sales funnel to the point where almost all income/sales are automated by my autoresponder.

The first 6 months

In the first half of the year after starting the blog, I barely paid attention to traffic or list growth.

The blog was mainly started as a self journal kind of project, and not as a serious business venture.

As a result, I didn’t really care if people read my blog, I didn’t care about SEO, and I didn’t care about growth.

The only thing I did to promote the blog was link to it from my forum profile signatures, and that got me around 5 subscribers per day.

But luckily, a lot of people who read the blog became fans.

Why?

Looking back now, in my opinion, it’s mainly because the stuff I wrote about was personal.

If you look through my blog posts, I don’t have “epic” 10,000 word tutorials. That’s not the reason why people were interested in my blog.

They were interested in my projects and the tutorials I shared because they were things I was actively working on. Even though my articles aren’t very long, they’re unique.

I didn’t write generic articles about SEO or traffic building tips.

Every article I wrote was directly connected to me.

I didn’t blindly publish articles like “How To Get More Traffic With Twitter” because I had never used Twitter for traffic.

Instead, every strategy and tutorial on the blog was based around what I’ve done and tried myself.

And I gave my own advice and opinions about them.

After a year of running RankXL, if there’s one piece of advice I can offer about starting a new blog, it’s to have a voice in each piece of content your write.

People follow blogs because they’re interested in what the person behind it has to say.

Anyone can start a blog about how to build traffic to a website and write generic articles about the best tips on building traffic.

Even people who don’t know anything about building traffic in the first place can pay hundreds of dollars for a professional to write their articles for them.

What differentiates a blog that builds traction and one that doesn’t is that the former will offer their own advice and opinions based off of their own experiences and experiments.

It’s like Nathan Barry says: If people read through your article and can’t tell that it’s your content, then you did something wrong.

(That may not be the exact quote. I can’t find where I heard it from, but it made a mark on me the first time I heard it.)

This is a crucial point if you want to grow a new blog and get it off the ground, and it’s one I always try to remember when I’m writing a new blog post.

You need a unique voice, and express your opinions. It’s what makes people want to subscribe to you and anticipate your next blog post.

Ask yourself after every blog post… Is this something that will make people want to read MORE of my content in the future? Or is it just a generic tutorial based around a topic that you don’t have experience enough to comment about?

By month 6, I had grown a list of about 500 people.

Those aren’t impressive numbers. But for a blog where I did next to no promotion, I’m proud of it πŸ™‚

Pretty soon, I started getting a lot of emails from readers asking questions. And few people even started asking me for coaching.

I had no idea what coaching would even consist of. And I didn’t really want to spend my days coaching people rather than working on my own projects.

So I decided to create a training course instead.

It seemed like there was a pretty high demand for it, and my list was really responsive…. so why not?

But I had no idea the work that was in store for me.

I can write about the technical things in a separate blog post but long story short, it was a major major project that took way longer than I expected.

The next 6 months

After launching the course is when the blog started to take off, and it’s also when I started to take everything a little more seriously.

I released it early June of 2015.

That’s only 6 months after starting the blog, and with a list of only 500 people.

The problem was… I knew nothing about how to sell.

I was still a major newbie with funnels, email marketing, and product launches.

And I made a ton of mistakes when launching the course for the first time.

For one, I didn’t have a launch at all! I didn’t even know what a proper launch process was.

After the course was completed, I just emailed my list saying, “Hey. A lot of you have been asking me for coaching. Instead, I just created this course. Here’s the link to the sales page.”

And that was it!

*face palm*

But that’s not the most embarrassing part.

I dropped the price drastically within 10 minutes after launching it.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I sent the email, but I was half-anticipating sales to roll in.

When it didn’t, I cut the price to nearly 50% of the original price thinking it was too expensive!

(Most people’s faces when I tell them this)

why

Embarrassing…. when I think about it now. And kind of funny too how clueless I was.

Although opening day sales were lower than I wished, it wasn’t a complete flop, though.

In the first month, the course did $9,100 in sales.

How did I manage to make that much in my first month with just a list of 500 people, and without even having a launch?

Affiliates

While I had a lot to learn about product launches, there is one thing I did well: Recruiting great, experienced affiliates.

Having a blog did help, of course, as it gave me credibility and affiliates could check out the blog and see that I’m not just a guy who quickly threw up an individual course to make a quick buck.

Being able to recruit affiliates not only resulted in a lot of extra sales, it helped the RankXL blog grow as well since more and more people were exposed to the RankXL brand.

Learning about list building

Like I mentioned earlier, when I launched my course I only had a list of around 500 people.

This was 6 months after starting the blog.

In the next 6 months after that, that number grew to 6000 — 12x growth in the second half of the year!

How?

For one… it was only after launching the course that I realized that to sell products online, you need an email list.

And autoresponders (sales funnels), if set up effectively, can automate all your sales for you.

INTERESTING! Right?

So I began studying my ass off, and running experiments using the RankXL blog and my training course as the guinea pigs.

I started analyzing a number of blogs. Specifically, blogs with giant email lists. If they sold a product, even better!

VideoFruit
OKDork
SocialTriggers
Backlinko
DoubleYourFreelancing
NathanBarry
KopywritingKourse
IWillTeachYouToBeRich

I looked for things like:

How did they optimize their blogs?
What strategies were they using to build their list?
Why are they doing what they do?
What do they sell?
How do they sell it?
What is their sales copy?

And the things that most interested me…

How did they set up their email funnel?
Why are they using X as an incentive?
How does it tie in with what they’re selling?
What was the purpose of their emails, and the order they’re sent in?
How was it systemized?
What can I try out myself?

If I noticed someone was using a strategy I liked and wanted to try myself, then I would find EVERYTHING about it online.

For example, Bryan’s success and methodical approach with product launches was fascinating to me.

So I not only read his blog posts about them, I would Google him to read/listen to every interview, podcast, and guest post he wrote about the topic.

Then I tried it out for myself.

In January of this year, I decided to test it out and made a change to the way I sell my course.

Instead of being open year-round, I would close it and only open it 3-4x per year.

The result? My highest earning week ever of just under $40,000 in sales.

That’s crazy!

I still have a lot of different funnel experiments I want to try, so I’ll have to play around with them to see if launches really are the most effective way to sell an online product at my price point.

But point is… I would learn a TON of new things doing research this way.

Learning something new, and then taking action on them right away.

You hear it all the time. Take action.

Because you need to try things yourself and fail in order to get the experience necessary to succeed.

I’ve tried dozens of different strategies on this blog.

A lot of them didn’t work out. But I learned something new and important each and every time.

And the times it did work out, it was usually because I could use the lessons I learned from other times to make smarter, more educated decisions in the future.

Earnings

So how much did RankXL make?

Since the blog was started last year, its made $130,000.

For a side project that was never even intended to become a serious business in the first place, that’s way more than I could have ever expected, and I’m certain that those numbers would be a LOT lower if it weren’t for my constant testing and experimenting with strategies and funnels.

The crazy thing is it wasn’t even monetized for the first 6 months.

These aren’t all profits, of course.

Only about 70% of that is profit, the rest going to affiliate payments.

How does the blog make money?

About 80% of my revenue came from my training course, The Niche Site Course.

The rest of it came from affiliate products I promoted, and various smaller products that I created and experimented with throughout the year.

The best part about having a blog

One of the best parts about starting the blog is that I feel less alone in the work that I do.

Internet marketing and making a living online is still something that not many people know about.

I can tell my friends and family everything about SEO, niche sites, and internet marketing, but they always seem to quickly forget and revert to one of two titles for me:

1. Web designer
2. Someone trying to build the next Facebook

It’s not their fault. Internet marketing is a foreign concept to them, and it can be difficult to comprehend.

As a result, there aren’t many close friends or family members I can have deep conversations with about my work.

My work was my own. I did it alone. I dealt with ups and downs alone.

And there were many times it would feel really lonely.

alone

It’s something that all people who work from home experience, some more severe than others.

But after the starting the blog, I feel it’s opened up a lot of doors for me. I’ve been able to befriend a lot of other smart marketers, and feel more like part of a community.

This is a feeling that participating in forums never gave me, and that’s the thing I’m most grateful for after starting RankXL.

Thank you’s

RankXL would not be where it is today if it weren’t for the existence of certain people/blogs.

Jon Dykstra from Fat Stacks Entrepreneur
Gael Breton from Authority Hacker
Matthew Allen from Dumb Passive Income
Spencer Haws and Perrin Carrell from Niche Pursuits
Tung Tran from Cloud Living
Matthew Woodward from MatthewWoodward.co.uk
Hayden from NoHatDigital
Dom Wells from Human Proof Designs
Neil Patel from QuickSprout and NeilPatel.com
Servando Silva from Stream SEO
Glen Allsopp from ViperChill
Nathan Barry from NathanBarry.com and ConvertKit
Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income
Kenny Leng from Online Fanatic
Eddie Gear from Broke Bloke Blog
Codrut Turcanu from CodrutTurcanu.com
Mike Bradford from Niche Site Azon
Jon Haver from Authority Website Income
Stuart Walker from Niche Hacks
Jeff Schuman from Team Schuman
Alex Park from ( TBA? πŸ™‚ )

I was fortunate enough to connect and build relationships with some of you, and every conversation/chat has been unmeasurably helpful for me.

I not only learned a ton, but it gave me the confidence and encouragement to grow RankXL from a side-project to a real business.

You made me feel like part of a group, rather than just someone working solo in a field that nobody really knows about.

Thank you!

I’m sure these names are all familiar to everyone, but if you’re seeing any for the first time, definitely check them out and subscribe to their blog.

Conclusion

2015 was a big year.

From a start to finish growth standpoint, I don’t know if I’ll ever have a bigger year.

So what’s in store for 2016?

Where is RankXL headed in the future?

Honestly, I have no clue.

For the past few months, I really haven’t been giving this blog much attention. I think I wrote a total of 3 blog posts this whole year.

RankXL is still more of a guinea pig for my learning and experiments than it is a serious business.

And while it will probably take a while for it to catch up to my niche site business in terms of earnings, RankXL is quickly catching up to it in terms of priority.

I’ll be publishing more frequently the rest of the year. I do love blogging on RankXL, and if there’s one regret I have about it it’s that I didn’t start it sooner.

Whatever I do online, I’ll try and write about it on the blog and share my experiences with you.

That way, you can learn from my mistakes, findings, and successes and get from point A to point B a lot faster.

And of course, if anybody needs some advice or wants some help, always feel free to contact me.

I still remember a few months after I discovered internet marketing, I found Pat Flynn’s blog and emailed him a question.

He emailed me back, and I was so thrilled!

I wasn’t really expecting a reply, and was so grateful he took time out of his busy schedule to respond to me.

I went on to send him like 5 more emails about simple questions like “should I use www or non-www?” before I finally realized I should just join a forum to ask basic questions.

But he patiently answered all my questions.

And I never forget about that.

It gave me inspiration and hope to give this internet marketing thing a try. I wasn’t alone.

With this blog, I hope to be able to pass on that feeling to as many people as I can.

Leave a Reply

136 Comments

  • Reply LoyAnn May 2, 2016 at 7:22 am

    not to put you down or anything; I think your site name had way more impact of success then your content. You have even admitted to being lazy for the most part, and even so, your site continued to grow; If you were to have started your site on anyothersitename.com then I highly suspect you would not be telling your success story today. Without even know what your site is about RankXL.com just seems to have that appeal, even more so for those that want to rank their sites, and since “rank” is a key component of the name, enough said, so count your blessings that you picked the right domain, because others posting similar content on their site may not be jetting off into space so quickly, and they may find it harder to get off the ground; simply choosing a domain close to the niche, and easily remembered can make the difference between fail or success.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Interesting point LoyAnn. A catchy name does help out quite a bit πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that.

    • Reply SteveM May 2, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      LoyAnn,

      I don’t agree really. I think Chris made the point that his website is highly personalised and I think he has a point. He also recognizes that he could have done more. I clicked on your profile and I notice that your website is not at all personalised. Looks professional but has no personality so no reason for me to stay there as opposed to any other site. At least try to put a few introductory paragraphs up and split test to see if you do better. Maybe you have? In which case that is fine too.

      • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm

        Great insights, Steve πŸ™‚ Thanks for chiming in.

      • Reply LoyAnn May 2, 2016 at 10:24 pm

        steve,

        Chris has been working on his niche and site far longer then I have been working on my new site. I am just saying, if he had started out on an avg joe domain, then his success may have not been the same, otherwise, every site with good content would rocket past $100k in the first year, which is great. I earn $100k+/yr, however, it takes a part time job, and several successful sites to get to the point I am today, by no means am I putting chris down, hell, he has done a damn fine job; however, personalized or not, it is rare for a site to rocket past $100k in the first year of operation, no? So I think he has been blessed for sure, regardless if it was his domain, or his content, or other… πŸ™‚

    • Reply Logan Jukes May 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      LoyAnn,

      You couldn’t be more incorrect. The name of a personal blog has nothing to do with it’s success. People land on a blog, they read the content, and they come back for more, or bookmark it if they like the content . .They don’t come back because the domain name is good.

      Chris has done an awesome job with this blog, and he deserves all the credit he gets. The name RankXL is pretty good, but I promise you that it did not have as much as an impact on it’s success as you reckon.

      • Reply Chris Lee May 8, 2016 at 3:29 pm

        Thanks a lot Logan πŸ™‚

    • Reply Benjamin May 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

      LoyAnn, I honestly doubt the site name had anything to do with the success of the blog.

      The success of this blog is due to the high quality content, and constant networking with influencers.

      The domain name doesn’t matter all. He could have named this site:

      Howtokillacatandgetawaywithit.com and it would still be awesome because of the content.

      Give credit, where credit is due. Chris has done a great job with this site, and it shouldn’t be downplayed as just him getting “lucky” with his domain name.

      • Reply Chris Lee May 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm

        Appreciate that, Benjamin πŸ™‚

    • Reply Mayaprakash Pant August 20, 2016 at 12:22 am

      So basically what you mean is that the secret behind Chris’s success is the little term “Rank” on this blog’s domain. You have a catchy point but not all good domains get higher success. Take an overall look at the blog and its content. RankXl is more than just setting up a custom TLD. It is about the way Chris makes this blog qualitative and only tips that works are mentioned here.

      • Reply Chris Lee August 20, 2016 at 6:29 am

        Thanks a lot, Mayaprakash πŸ™‚

        Really appreciate the kind words.

  • Reply Les May 2, 2016 at 7:26 am

    For a dungeon-dweller like myself, you are walking with the IM gods.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Haha, thanks for reading Les!

    • Reply Aaron S. May 3, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      I agree with LoyAnn somewhat on this just because I, myself rarely will read blogs that has “fullname.com” As soon as I see a blog like this, I’m usually like “who is this guy/gal and who do they think they are?” So not saying it played a part for everybody, but definitely did me! I strongly believe a brand name beats a real name any day to give someone a good first impression. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

        I actually like full name domains, especially if it’s .com.

        If chrislee.com were available, I may have chosen that instead of rankxl πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rob May 2, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Oh my I’m first again πŸ˜€

    I agree on all the things you said Chris. I already found so much value the 1st time I found this blog to the point where I have read all your posts on the second day πŸ˜€

    Congrats man! Six figures in a year is so amazing!

    Cheers,
    Rob

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      So happy to hear that. Thanks for following the blog, Rob πŸ™‚

  • Reply Chris May 2, 2016 at 7:41 am

    This is inspiring. I used to make some money with Adsense my making junky little websites and throwing ads on them. It all stopped when there was an algorithm update.

    Recently I started a new blog project and I’m going to work at making a quality website instead of something just thrown together to get ad clicks. Thanks for all the advice you’ve offered on this blog.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Awesome! Thanks Chris.

  • Reply Al Amin Kabir May 2, 2016 at 7:48 am

    A great journey indeed.

    Thanks for sharing everything, you are a great inspiration for many of us!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Appreciate you reading the blog.

  • Reply Nazar May 2, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Chris,

    You are my inspiration for my niche blogs and am already subscriber of your Niche Site Course. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks Nazar πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mike May 2, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Chris congrats on all of your success this past year. I always look forward to absorbing the awesomely informative and highly applicable advice in your well written blog posts. I also follow and enjoy many of the blogs you mentioned and everyone should check them out(Jon D especially). You have been highly impactful in reshaping the way I think about and approach the authority site business model. Here’s to an even more prosperous next 12 months for your niche sites and RankXL!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Hey, Mike! Thanks for the kind words πŸ™‚ Appreciate it.

  • Reply Shane Paarman May 2, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Hey Chris

    I have enjoyed your journey every step of the way from the start, and i just want to say, thank you for being so ethical and transparent about your jouney.

    It has inspired me to start my own journey and continue to follow you to see what the next chapter has install for you!

    i look forward to you next post.

    Regards Shane

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks, Shane! Best of luck with your journey.

  • Reply Lee Qin May 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Great Sharing Chris! Your course is awesome! The best part I like is how you organize all posts and differentiate it to pillar or inner pages.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Nice! Thanks Lee πŸ™‚

  • Reply Bryan May 2, 2016 at 8:15 am

    It’s really inspiring! Can’t wait to share my results with you in the future (hopefully soon)!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks Bryan. Hope to see them soon πŸ™‚

  • Reply Deyan May 2, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Hey Chris,
    Yes it’s true.You have nailed the limits of being so Honest. and we all love you for being so Genuine, so True and so Honest!
    it’s just the new way of Marketing – called Saying Just Truth!
    Thanks

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you Deyan πŸ™‚

  • Reply Joe May 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Hey Chris! Your website and Rankxl rocks! Thank you for this.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Thanks Joe!

  • Reply Loz James May 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Hi Chris

    I’ve recently found your blog and bought your excellent course – and everything you’re doing is very inspiring.

    Whatever direction you take in 2016 – I wish you every success πŸ™‚

    Cheers!

    Loz

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks a lot, Loz! Great to see you here πŸ™‚

  • Reply Iris May 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

    This is a very touching post and I enjoyed reading it. All the best with RankXL blog for 2016 and in coming years and looking forward to applying same lessons on my blog as well

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks Iris!

  • Reply Luke May 2, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Hi Chris,

    “And of course, if anybody needs some advice or wants some help, always feel free to contact me.”

    Thanks Chris – I will πŸ˜‰

    “I’m not a very materialistic person. The thought of buying a Lamborghini isn’t going to motivate me to work day and night to grow my business”

    A very good trait to have. Anything now is a bonus to really to enjoy life without full-time work-related stress.

    In all seriousness, congratulations on doing so well with Rankxl. I’m sure it can only grow from here, and add to your Niche sites as a revenue maker. Enjoy your success!

    Cheers,

    Luke

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks Luke. Really appreciate you following the blog.

  • Reply [email protected] May 2, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Hi Chris, congrats to all your successes. By now I know you can confidently answer this question, How would I know if what I am working on will be successful in the future? How would someone know that the dream of laptop lifestyle is not just a dream?

    Though you teach about this in the course, and I read it many times, still doubt creeps in from time to time especially, when nothing seems to be happening from my efforts.

    Thanks in advance for the reply and again congrats

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      It depends on the model and strategy you’re using. There’s no way to know. You just kind of have to go through it all.

      But from first glance, just looking at quality (in all regards), it’s fairly easy to tell.

  • Reply Saeed May 2, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Impressive and inspirational, Chris. I wish you many more success in the subsequent years.

    Personally, I look up to you for growing my online business. I’ve started taking massive actions ever since I stumbled on your blog.

    Keep up the good work, bro. You rock!!!!

    Saeed

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you Saeed!!

  • Reply Olli May 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Hi Chris,

    Good for you!

    You are absolutely right thinking of a personal approach to your blog to be the key reason of its popularity.
    It really makes a huge difference.

    Thanks to occasion I’ve somehow found your blog right after its birth.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks for following the blog from the start, Olli πŸ™‚

  • Reply Patrick May 2, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Great article πŸ˜€
    But what is answer www or not www ?

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      It’s whatever you like πŸ™‚

      But choose one or the other, then use redirects. WordPress will do that for you automatically though.

  • Reply Amit May 2, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Hey Chris,

    Great post!

    Inspiring once again – I’m a student on your course and am really enjoying it. SEO and adsense is a whole I didn’t know existed so you’ve definitely opened my eyes to new possibilities.

    The best of luck for the rest of the year.

    Amit

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Thank Amit! Best of luck to you too.

  • Reply Pranjal Borah May 2, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Hi Chris,

    Congratulations ! A big achievement indeed. Very few people can have this sort of success within a year.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks Pranjal πŸ™‚

  • Reply Vin May 2, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Yeaaaaaaah buddy. Congrats on all the success. Can’t wait to see your 7-figure post next year! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Haha, thanks Vin!

  • Reply Harry Bloom May 2, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Congrats on the success, man…thoroughly deserved if ask me πŸ™‚

    I actually thought you had been working on Rank XL for way longer. As a user of your product, I can say without doubt, that it is one of the best SEO things I have bought online…I mean top 5 man, no doubt.

    Keep up the good work.

    P.s. I improved my site speed massively with your Cloudflare / Total Cache guide and refer to it regularly for my new sites πŸ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      So great to hear that πŸ™‚ Thanks, Harry!

  • Reply Joseba May 2, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Congratulations Chris,

    You have successfully created a leader site regarding the creation and growth of niches.

    I feel much identified with you and your personal story.

    I have been inspired in you and other markets to replicate your success.

    I think your blog should specialize in the long term in growth and traffic generation.

    Do you want to know about an interesting project I’m working right now?

    It’s a Niche Creation Follow Up. Follow me and see how I create it step by step and how I monetize it.

    I would like to thank you again for your hard work and dedication.

    Let’s be in touch!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Joseba πŸ™‚ Interesting. Best of luck with your project!

  • Reply Tung Tran May 2, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Awesome man! So happy to read about your success.

    Right from the first time I visited your blog, I knew you were onto something with it.

    Definitely a big inspiration for my product launch next month πŸ˜›

    I’m devouring Bryan Harris’s stuff like crazy too.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks, Tung! Can’t wait for your product launch πŸ™‚

  • Reply Paul May 2, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Very inspiring blog post. We often see others getting through to some extent but often never knew the struggles and sometimes personal challenges which they had to go through to make it. As someone who invested in the latest edition of your course I look forward to putting everything into practice and earning a full-time income from it and also quitting my job which I don’t like that much. I do hope that when I email you that you would be reaching out to me as well. I intend on sharing my levels of growth with you also.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks, Paul! Let me know how it goes and if you run into questions.

  • Reply JoseLab May 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Hi Chris,

    I love your blog and post. This article is very inspiring πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!! ^^

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Reply allen May 2, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Chris
    Your blog posts have been the inspiration to keep me slowy moving forward, after many years of trying (and failing). Almost to the point I’d just have to go back to a full time day job. After primary caregiver for my elder folks (which kept me from a full time job) I was almost at ropes end, when your course came out. Sadly, my folks have both entered eternity, and I do miss them terribly. It makes what you say about being “alone” working from home, even more real.
    However, you have patiently answered my questions, and I’m beginning to enjoy watching my sites come together and grow. Although you only recommend having “one” site and growing it out in different categories, I had two that I wanted to grow out. And they are…
    You are a light of inspiration to many my friend, and I’m thankful to have had my path crossed with you!!
    Love your information, please keep it comin…

    Blessings,
    Allen

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing that Allen. I wish you all the best, and hope you can reach your goal.

      Reach out to me if you have any questions or run into roadblocks.

  • Reply Hassan May 2, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Hi ,

    What tool you used to make this ” leave a reply” box ? Thanks . Pls dont ignore.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      It’s not a tool. Just designed with css.

  • Reply Rob May 2, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Congrats Chris! What you’ve done in a year took me 3 years to achieve. I’ve always wanted to create an info product/course but put it on the backburner of laziness. This post was what I needed to make it a top priority in 2016. Again, big congrats to you for achieving so much success in such a short amount of time. This blog has been a goldmine for me. Cheers! ~Rob

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks so much Rob πŸ™‚ Let me know when you have your product out. I’d love to check it out.

  • Reply Samir May 2, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Excellent post, Chris. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story.

    You’re very right, this works because it’s personal and it’s what you’ve actually done rather than general wisdom. Thank you for sharing so many useful blogs and resources. Some I’ve seen before, but some are new and waiting to be explored.

    All the best with the rest of your year and hope to see many more stories of your progress in the coming months.

    Samir

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks a lot Samir πŸ™‚

  • Reply Don May 2, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Hi Chris –

    Well done mate – really well done!

    The way you have described how other “onliners” have re-acted to you made me smile because that is exactly the way you behaved with me hahahaha…

    I remember several months ago I started out creating my website based on your course and your teachings.

    I created the pillar posts, and followed through on your recommendations and whilst I haven’t drowned in online income yet, things seem to be okay.

    I have often wrote out an e-mail to you, but as per your experiences above in your post, I decided to let you rest and I hit the search engines. It’s definitely not the same *lol*

    But hey, great job Chris and even though I do other things online I have decided to stick to your course and take this one slow.

    Yeah, it would be great to hear how life treats you from hereon-in..

    Stay safe’n’happy ^5

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Great to see you here Don! Yeah for sure. You’re on the right track. Keep up the hard work and let me know if you run into any questions πŸ™‚

      • Reply Don May 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        It is hard work, (that’s the horrible part!), but what the heck – it keeps me out of trouble πŸ˜‰

        (Thanks for the edit ^5)

        • Reply Happy March 9, 2017 at 3:47 am

          Your’s is the iniegltlent approach to this issue.

  • Reply Jon Bottarini May 2, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Followed RankXL since the very beginning and just wanted to say that I see the parallel connections between you asking Pat Flynn questions and me asking you questions as well – I appreciate all your work and wish you the best. Especially thankful that, similar to Pat, you took time out of your day to answer my questions. It’s very rare, as you mentioned, for someone to do that nowadays. Excited to see what next year has in store for you. Maybe another niche site in the works? πŸ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      Really happy to hear that. Thanks Jon!

  • Reply Jon May 2, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Hey Chris,

    Congrats on RankXL’s success. Thanks for the mention. It’s been great getting to know you. RankXL is definitely one of my go-to blogs.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you Jon! It’s been great getting to know you too. Your blog is awesome. I refer people to it all the time πŸ™‚

  • Reply Toki Castro-Tover May 2, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Hi, Chris!

    Congrats on everything and always and a big thank you for getting me started and always answering my questions πŸ™‚

    Next post should be about “a day in the life of Chris Lee” πŸ™‚

    Toki

    P.S. I emailed you weeks ago but never heard from you, busy busy guy… were you being lazy that day πŸ˜‰

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks Toki! Haha nice post idea.

      Aha πŸ™‚ sorry about that. Some emails get lost in the mix sometimes. Found it now.

  • Reply Brad May 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Finding a unique voice is exactly what you did, and I believe that’s why you’ve been successful with your blog. A catchy domain will helps.

    How did you recruit affiliates to sell your product?

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks Brad. It was mainly just by reaching out to them and forming relationships. It does get easier later on once you have some big names behind you.

  • Reply Diane May 2, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Thank you Chris, for once again sharing your experiences.

    I’ve been scoping out a new blog project and was concentrating on a publishing schedule first but… I think I’ll now put the schedule on hold and create the product first.

    It always seemed like a chicken and egg situation to me: get the list and then create the product or create the product and then build the list.

    Which is the better approach? Does it matter?

    Given your accomplishments in such a short space of time, I’m guessing the latter is the better option.

    Back to the drawing board! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee May 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Hey Diane. Both ways can work. I like the idea of building an audience first by teaching through blog posts. Doesn’t have to be a full-blown blog, but just a few posts so people can check you out and get an idea of what you’re all about.

    • Reply Matt Jones May 3, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Hey Dianne,

      I just checked out your website, and you seem to be running way too many Adsense ads on the site. You’re breaching AdSense policy by having more than 3 ads on one given website page, and you could be at risk of losing your account.

      Try putting two ads within your content, and one in the sidebar. It’ll maximize CTR.

      • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm

        Good catch!

  • Reply Wole May 3, 2016 at 3:12 am

    You inspired me. You have demostrated that with hardword, dedication and commitment, anything is possible. Thank you for sharing this with us. My question is, can someone make such with Adsense?

    • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 3:51 am

      Thanks for reading, Wole. Certainly. It’s a different model and strategy but both can work.

  • Reply Nimisha May 3, 2016 at 3:20 am

    Hey Chris.. Congrats to your success. Your hard work paid off eventually! How long did it take to create the seo course? I am sure it took a long time. Did you use a wordpress membership plugin to build out the course?

    Cheers to your continued success,

    Nimisha

    • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 3:53 am

      Thanks Nimisha! Don’t remember the exact time, but it was about a month and half. Last 2 weeks were spent doing nothing but working on the course though so it probably would have taken longer realistically.

      Yeah, used a bunch of different plugins. I’ll do a writeup about it soon.

  • Reply Philos May 3, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Great things really can be done in 365 days or less – and your story growing RankXL is a testament to that. Congratulations on being hard working (and lazy once in awhile haha) and regaining your focus each time to do what you must do to grow your sites Lee. All the best with your current and future projects.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Thanks a lot, Philos!

  • Reply Matt Jones May 3, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for putting together such a high quality course as “Niche Site Course” is. I asked my girlfriend if I could buy it for xmas, and she agreed. I ended up buying her a Nutri Ninja in return (she was happy haha).

    Just want to say that I’ve spent a good amount of time trying different online ventures and courses, and I kinda ended up being a “well-schooled n00b” that did all the study, but barely put things into action.

    (And everyone here knows how that turned out).

    After discovering your blog at the end of last year (Through another website called “Niche Hacks” – they featured you in a write up), I signed up to your mini Adsense course, and I was absolutely blown away by the amount of free, good, reliable information you gave away – so much to the point that I was checking almost everyday for the next enrolment of Niche Site Course.

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, I purchased the course and I couldn’t believe the insanely good golden nuggets that you gave away – especially in relation to site structure for maximum SEO presence and pure white hat SEO link building strategies that actually work.

    Currently, I’m planning a site that covers millions of searches per month (not including the long tail stuff, either!) and I can expand into many sub-niches. I’m very excited about the long, steady prospect of ranking this site and obtaining a combined income from all those searches… It actually boggles the mind.

    Yes, I’ve got a long, hard, road ahead of me, but thanks to your support and this post in particular – your inspiration has fueled me to undertake this project head first.

    If anyone reads this comment and is on the fence about Niche Site Course – it’s worth it’s weight in gold. This has got to be hands down the best SEO course I have ever purchased.

    It just makes sense!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Hey Matt! Haha, awesome!

      Thanks a lot for the review. I’m seriously flattered πŸ™‚

  • Reply RJ Bryan May 3, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Awesome story Chris,
    Definitely inspired me to actually write on my blog (which isn’t really a blog because I have one post lol)….

    Anyway, its great to hear how you started. I follow a lot of they guys you thanked (even bought some of their courses) and it always seems like the only way to build a financially successful blog is to have the “1001 ways to Blah” post.

    But I have the itch. Ive been doing this for a while and make a living with my sites, so I do want to share and build.

    Good luck going forward!

    Cheers,
    RJ

    P.S. I too have emailed Pat Flynn with simple question when I started lol… Looking back, its hilarious how simple my questions were.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks RJ! Best of luck with your sites πŸ™‚

      My questions were some of the simplest as well, haha.

  • Reply Tauqir Hussain May 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Chris,
    This is one great motivational success you showed in above article. Congratulations on a very successful past year. I am a regular reader of you blog post along with other’s you mentioned.

    I am facing similar challenges as I stated my blogging career recently. Hopefully I will be disturbing you for some nice tips again.

    Regards

    • Reply Chris Lee May 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Tauqir πŸ™‚

  • Reply Yaopey May 4, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Excellent self-reflection article Chris.

    I’ve always got a great passion for my niche but have never thought of anything more than self-satisfaction until I found out about online marketing from pat flynn. I don’t remember how I came across your site but your content have been inspirational.

    I started my own blog recently with my mind set to add value to what is out there already but I just realized what’s missing in my blog after reading this post – a personal touch. I think that’s what I’m going to do from now on. Thanks!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 4, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks Yaopey πŸ™‚ Best of luck with your new blog!

  • Reply Zak May 5, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Hey Chris,

    I’m a new reader and subscriber to your site and I have to admit, you’ve inspired me. I’ve spent the last hour going through all your posts and I admire the clear, concise and relatable content you share.

    I’ve been guilty of shiny object syndrome in the past and I think that if I just remained loyal to any of the sites I abandoned, I would have a built a few good sites by now.

    However, it’s never to late to change, right? Going forward I plan to focus on building one site at a time and giving it a fair chance before even thinking about moving on.

    I do hope you write more frequently. You’re talented and a great help!

    Keep on rocking πŸ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee May 8, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Thanks Zak!

  • Reply Sarvesh Shrivastava May 6, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Hey Chris,

    RankXL’s success motivates me very much. I have been an avid reader of RankXL and love the way you share your niche sites success as well as failures with us.

    Following your footprints, I too have shared my success story of how I reached to $10k/month from zero earnings. I hope it will motivate everyone trying to succeed in the online world.

    In case you would like to read, here goes the link:

    http://www.nichedesire.com/first-post-introduction-to-myself/

    • Reply Chris Lee May 8, 2016 at 9:05 am

      That’s awesome! Thanks Sarvesh πŸ™‚

  • Reply Wylie May 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Thanks. You have given me hope for the future. I currently have a Christian blog I work on (www.practicalrighteousness.com), but anticipate a jump into a niche site in the near future. This is great stuff!

    • Reply Chris Lee May 8, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Happy to hear that! Best of luck with your blog, Wylie!

  • Reply Joseph Chikeleze May 14, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Wow Chris, I love this piece – that’s whooping amount of money to say.

    it worked for you, it gonna work for me. I know , hard working pays especially when one is trying to be himself.

    I love this – more $$$$ in the future.

    My regards – Joseph
    W3HowTo.com

    • Reply Chris Lee May 15, 2016 at 4:46 am

      Thanks, Joseph!

  • Reply rob May 18, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    no more income reports? i only see aug 2015 as the last one. i wanted to order your adsense course but you mention most of your income comes from selling the course. so its not from adsense or is it that another site?

    • Reply Chris Lee May 18, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Yup the income reports are for my other niche sites business, which consists mainly of Adsense and is separate from this blog.

      I made the decision to stop doing income reports after putting out a paid course. It all just seemed too much like… “Hey look how much I make. Now go buy my course.” Which isn’t bad, but to do it every single month seems excessive. Just a personal choice for the long-term vision of this blog.

  • Reply China Azul May 25, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Chris Lee, I’m your fan.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 25, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks China πŸ™‚

  • Reply Ferzy May 27, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Your post does have a unique voice and that makes it very appealing. I found about it from word of mouth from other bloggers, and it was nice to see that you credited and thanked them individually. I think that was a factor in your rapid growth as well. Congratulations and looking forward to more often posting.

    • Reply Chris Lee May 28, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Great points, Ferzy. Thanks a lot πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rajiv Singha June 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Hey Chris! Great post. I stumbled on to it from Ahrefs. A reference from Tim Soulo in comments. Had to check it out πŸ˜‰ Glad I did. Subscribed!

    • Reply Chris Lee June 9, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks, Rajiv πŸ™‚ Glad to hear that!

  • Reply Pranav June 16, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Wow. I’m totally serious about this – I’ve never read a blog post about ANYTHING yet that has moved me so and made me smile while filling me with inspiration to embark on my IM journey. Thanks a lot! You rock πŸ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee June 16, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Cool πŸ™‚ Thanks a lot Pranav. Really happy to hear that.

  • Reply John Nguyen June 18, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks…, so helpful blogs, heard abt u long time ago, now have a chance to read

    • Reply Chris Lee June 20, 2016 at 2:25 am

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  • Reply uthman saheed July 30, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Your story did not only inspired me, but also challenged me to try harder and smarter this time around. My blog is just four month old, and I wished I could grow it up to make earnings.

    Apart from the fact that, its frustrating to have a daily job using your whole live to serve someone else, its unfortunate that there is no even job in town for us to take up in this part of the World (Nigeria) for youths.

    I’ve subscribed to your email list, and I hope I will find help from your posts.

    • Reply Chris Lee August 1, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Really great to hear that. Thanks, Uthman. Shoot me an email if you have any questions along the way πŸ™‚

  • Reply Imer Imran September 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Chris
    Great post and inspired as always. I’ve visited all the certain blogs mention above and I have to admit that it’s very great blogs. Some of it promoting your course like Dom Wells from Human Proof Designs. By the way, what do you think about Dom Wells’s services (Buy Article) since I’ve seen Jon Dykstra from Fat Stacks Entrepreneur is also using that services for his Adsense Sites.

    Again, thanks for an extremely informative & inspiring post.

    Imer

    • Reply Chris Lee September 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Imer! Dom’s a super smart marketer and has one of the most reputable services out there.

  • Reply udara January 13, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    thanks

  • Reply Jimbo February 9, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Well done you!

    • Reply Chris Lee February 9, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks Jimbo!

  • Reply G. P. Gautam February 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Since Google dumped me at RankXl I read a few posts. And continue… They gave me deep knowledge about blogging (as I call it Netpreneurship). And of course your mini course. But, this one really touched my emotions.

    Great job! de

    And thank you to inspire me.

    • Reply Chris Lee February 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Awesome πŸ™‚ Hehe.

      Glad to hear that GP!

  • Reply Sufang Kuo March 8, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Hey Chris!

    Thanks for the great info. I hope to follow in your footsteps and make something great that improves the world and my passive income πŸ™‚

    I have a ton to learn but am looking forward to the journey with you. Makes it more fun to be in good company!

    • Reply Chris Lee March 16, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Sufang! Hope to hear more from you.

  • Reply Zailinah Safiee March 28, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Hi Chris,

    The name of your blog has nothing to do with why I came and decided to hang around.

    I felt comfortable because your blog provides value. I learn quite a bit and it’s like I’m talking to a long-time friend. You don’t over-promise and although you claim to be ‘lazy’, your determination certainly shows.

    Kudos to your success!

    • Reply Chris Lee March 30, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      That’s so great to hear. Thank you Zailinah! πŸ˜€