3 Lessons after 2.5 Years into building ContentRefined.com

Today Content Refined turns 2.5 years old and Maddie has recently shared a BIG post about the journey!

Read about the entire journey here – Content Marketing Company or my Content Refined business review.

Plus they just had a video produced to help people learn more about Content Refined…

In this post I want to share 3 lessons I have learned from my position (idea identification, initial system architecture and assembling/stewarding the team).


In the summer of 2016 Maddie joined my team with the mandate of systematizing the content creation process for my portfolio of sites. She killed it!

From that effort we decided to launch Content Refined as a content marketing company.

I documented that launch when I announced it in this post – https://websiteincome.com/content-marketing-strategy-launch-business/

It grew incredibly well, achieving 10% week over week growth for the first few months.

There have certainly been a fair number of challenges/opportunities and in this post I hope to share from my perspective what the 3 most significant lessons were.

Lesson 1: Systems Can’t Replace People!

For everyone that reads this site they know I LOVE systems. Systematized business processes and systematic solutions to problems are core values for the business.

However, despite the engineers desire in me to build a system that doesn’t require great people to run it never happens. Great systems allow great people to execute better.

As I significantly shifted my focus in 2017 to adbank my core businesses needed to be managed and any business where there was a manager responsible for running the business did well. However any business that was solely dependent on a system went off the rails.

Maddie grew the business, Laura managed it while Maddie was on mat leave and I have had limited ongoing involvement. No system could have been built to adapt to the changed and achieved what the team has achieved!

Lesson 2: Churn is a Moral Sapingl!

Content Refined has been a great business with significant initial success and very solid longer term performance. But as with any recurring revenue business that is non-essential, churn is the enemy!

Trying to keep growth moving while fighting churn is a never ending battle and can be very unmotivating.

Sometimes even solid months feel like this…

For anyone who ever wants to dig more into recurring revenue business models this is the best article on any subject ever and it focuses on metrics – https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/

Lesson 3: Focus on your Strengths in a Congruent way!

Congruent has been my favourite business word for awhile. Ensuring the people, value proposition and systems are all aligned congruently is critically important.

Building that congruence around the set of strengths that makes you unique and focusing on it has been where our biggest successes have come from and also, when we drifted, where our biggest failures occurred.

For Content Refined, the effort around data analysis (to determine what tools/metrics give our content the best predictive ability to perform well in Google) has been very rewarding. Trying to broaden and sell other services where our set of strengths didn’t align didn’t get off the ground in a significant way (for example, an email marketing service to existing clients).

Being accountable for results and not just words, as a content marketing company that uses data (and the thousands of articles we’ve already published) to continually refine what is working now, is what has Content Refined clients loving the service.

content refined business management


I hope my view on the 3 key lessons while stewarding the growth of Content Refined has been useful.

If you have any content marketing needs be sure to book a free call with Maddie or Laura… they often share some pretty incredible and specific to your site insights on those calls! You can book here if there is availability.

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Content Refined – One Year Anniversary – Acquisition and Raising Prices

Just about a year ago I sent you the first email about Content Refined, the content marketing company Maddie Taylor and I founded off of the back of my own content creation process for my money site portfolio. Happy Birthday Content Refined!

The company started with a tiny production team; a manager, two writers and a publisher. Our goals were to hit $10k monthly recurring revenue within 6 months. We quickly realized that this was a really cute goal. In January 2017, we started growing at a rate of 10% per week! This didn’t stop until we hit a bit of a plateau in July and August, but it has picked back up since, due to a few different marketing efforts, finding our ideal clients and word of mouth sales.


What makes Content Refined different from any other content marketing company is that we are very Data Driven!


Our mission at Content Refined is to push the science of Content Marketing forward by creating online content that is optimized to rank on search engines. We do extensive data analysis tests on the effect of different metrics on the performance of our articles in Google. This includes analyzing keyword metrics, word length and the use of various Content Marketing tools. Our tests continue to refine our Content Marketing strategies that will help you – and your business – succeed online.


Content Refined has grown into an agency of 4 full time Project Managers, and about 60 contractors! We’re publishing about 170 quality articles on a weekly basis!


With this being said, we have added a lot of value to Content Refined over the last year…. we’ve improved our systems,

  • Built a team of reliable, professional, experienced writers,
  • Manipulated and crunched data to help your content rank,
  • Hired dedicated management teams to personalize your experience,
  • Invested in a ton of content marketing tools
  • Just completed our first technology focused acquisition ferzy.com


We have done all this, having only raised our prices once over the last year, keeping it budget friendly for our clients.


In addition over the next months we will be rolling out a custom backend client dashboard that will allow allow all our customers to know exactly the status of all their orders at any point.


Well… we’ve made the business decision that we are at the point where we need to raise our prices in order to keep up this level of intensity across the board.

On Tuesday, we will be officially raising our prices, so if you would like to be grandfathered in to our current pricing structure, check out the prices and order before Tuesday!

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July Income Report

July was my first full month as a full time online entrepreneur! It was a lot of fun!

I am not sure if it will ever wear off but the lifestyle change has certainly had me smiling/pinching myself a few times in July…

  • Taking my 3 year old son “camping” in the backyard mid-week
  • Biking home from work to jump in the pool with the family (and a cold beer) mid-afternoon mid-week
  • Having some of my biggest revenue number days while on a canoe trip

In this income post I will try to share what I have learned and failed at over the month and the performance of the businesses!

My Business Focus Points:

  1. Passive Income Website Portfolio
  2. AuthorityWebsiteIncome Blog
  3. SEO & Expired Domain Services:
  4. Amazon FBA Business
    • Brand #1
    • Brand #2
    • Brand #3
    • New Web App Project

Key Successes

  1. FBA Brand #1 – After June where the FBA business I sold but still own one third of struggled due to the associate account getting suspended it was great to see a very solid bounce back for the business.
  2. Partnerships – With the added time I have had there have been several interesting partnership opportunities that have come up while I have been in discussions with people. The challenge is to ensure I do not take on more than I can handle and continue to build my teams capacity at handling projects.
  3. Backlink Analysis & Discussions with Clients – After talking to over 50 readers of AuthorityWebsiteIncome last month it became clear there was a need for a couple things one of which was more help to answer the question of “how many backlinks do I need to rank on the first page”. Because of those discussions and how my team already does this analysis I created a very simple little offer that provides a lot of value to people with a website.
  1. Training – While I had the day job one of the areas that I was definitely not spending enough time on was education and training. My information “diet” had been very very lean and I read very few websites/took no training. With the added time I have scheduled some time each week to spend time completing high quality training and focusing on deliberate training/practise. Here are a few of the great training programs I am taking right now (in addition to listening to about 1 book/week while I bike to/from work)…
    1. 1 authority machineAuthorityMachine + Internship – The training created by Hayden and Spencer is great and I have heard awesome feedback about the internship from some individuals who have gone through it. Highly recommended!
    2. 2 udemyInvesting in Website (Free Udemy Course) – This course is for people looking at how to invest in websites. It is created by Eric from DigiStrats who I have worked with and also take some of his training before. Great information + right now the course is free!
    3. 3 amz aff bootcampAMZ Affiliate Bootcamp – This course is created by Tung Tran and provides a lot of information on how to make money with Amazon Affiliate sites. Lots of great information for a beginner wanting to make money with an Amazon Affiliate site.
    4. New LinkBuilding Strategy – More to come on this but as we test out different strategies we are finding a lot of success with one particular strategy to get the worlds best links.

Key Failures

    1. Productivity Increase Not 1:1 With Increased Hours – With the added hours my productivity has not increased 1:1. I don’t find this too surprising and will continue to work on being more effective and productive. Listening to a great book right now bye a fellow Canadian Chris Bailey The Productivity Project and I am liking how actionable it is!

  1. Realizing Several Teams are Not Setup for Success! – After I did an analysis on a few of my businesses I realized that several of my teams are not setup for success. The main reason is that I have deviated from my favourite business book (E-Myth Revisited) and don’t have the Entrepreneur / Manager / Technician clearly defined. I wrote more details about this failure here.


2016 Business Goals

Below is my businesses main goals for 2016

4 goals

Download This Easy to Edit and Printable Goals Template – FREE

(Note – FBA Brand #2 Has Been Replaced With my SAAS Business)

Part 1 – Passive Authority & Niche Website Income Profit/Loss

5 passive income goals

3 Goals in 2016 for my Website Portfolio Business

  1. Systematize Top 20 Sites in Portfolio

July Update – I have plans in motion to grow my team and this one may come down to the wire but will have a new project manager to help me with managing my passive income portfolio.

  1. Buy 1 Site Per Month

July Update – A great website purchase was made in July. It was a good deal for both the seller and myself, with only a couple months of earnings history it would have been tough for him to sell anywhere else while we were able to combine a purchase price, earnout and services from LightningRank.com to come up with a deal that has everyone happy.

  • GOAL = 1 Website
  • ACTUAL = 1 Great Website Purchased

6 websites purchased

If any readers are looking to sell their profitable site(s) VERY QUICKLY let me know by emailing me. I can let you know in 12hrs if I am interested and complete the purchase in 24-48hrs – Contact Me Here

I have found the right sellers are those…

  • Looking to sell FAST (under 24hrs has been accomplished!) (shorter time for due diligence on my end increases risk for me)
  • Not wanting to spend a lot of time on the sales process (analytics and income proof is all I need)
  • High quality sites making over $500/month often make sense to sell via other channels (EmpireFlippers or FEInternational are great places)
  • SEO done to the site can be questionable and that increased risk will be reflected in the sales price
  • Understand that the benefits of the bullet points above means the sales multiple will be lower

If you have a website you are looking to sell fast please let me know


  1. Sell Websites Strategically for $100k Total

July Update – The website sale is still on track with the group that has taken over the site still doing a great job.



7 passive income portfolio

July Update – The ongoing issue with the partnerships associate account at Amazon is still holding this number down lower than I would like.


Part 2 – Authority Website Income Blog Profit/Loss

8 awi goals

3 Goals in 2015 for AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com

  1. Post Once Per Week

July Update – Now that I am working full time I should have no excuses to not hit this goal. There are plenty of topics I want to talk about that I believe would add value so it is good to see me back to hitting my target numbers with my first full month working online.

  • Plan = 4
  • Actual = 4

9 number of posts published

  1. 10x my Outreach

July Update – Continued success on this front with a lot of effort spent performing podcasts in July. The story/strategy of turning an Amazon Affiliate site into an FBA business and then selling it continues to be a story/business model that resonates with people as it connects a lot of dots in the online business space.

  1. Site Redesign – Completed!

July Update – Already Completed


July Update – 16,364 uniques’ which represents a +66% year over year increase. I believe if I can achieve my weekly posting plus my 10x outreach I can achieve this goal by the end of the year!

10 traffic to awi

Part 3 – Services Business Profit/Loss

11 services goals

  1. Systems Overhaul/Refresh

July Update – Kelley the project manager for the services business has joined me full time in the office and we will be undertaking this large review over the coming months.

  1. Improve email marking and sales automation

July Update – I am continuing to do some small tests to collect data before a larger overhaul. I need to get this done soon.

  1. BrandBuilders.io Becomes The Go-To Resource for Done 4 You Amazon FBA Private Label Websites and Done 4 You Amazon Affiliate Sites

July Update – Continues to be a clear winner when it comes to product/market fit with steady demand for the services offered.



Part 4 – Amazon FBA Business

12 fba goals

  1. Sell FBA Business for 30x with 3+ Solid Months

July Update – SUCCESS

  1. Launch Brand #2 – Personal

July Update – After additional due diligence it turns out the business model for this affiliate site to FBA migration would not work with only $12 profit margin on a $120 product. In addition there are some interesting partnership opportunities I am exploring and will be moving quickly on.

  1. Launch Brand #3 – Investors

July Update – Sold out of most sizes of our initial order (no profit on initial order as all units were flown in) and now the first sea shipment has arrived in the US.

  1. LE – Hijack Monitoring Service

July Update – Similar update for June with GREAT metrics and user feedback but our ability to accelerate our customer acquisition has been tricky!

13 listingeagle setup

Overall Income Update


Original Monthly Net Income Target (original goal $15k/month reliable income by age 35)

  • Target Net Income = $9,350
  • Actual net Income = $31,869.24
  • 2016 Average Monthly Net Income = $30,296 (stretch goal is 30k average for the year)

14 tracking net income

Gross revenue is a vanity number for my business and I do not share it.

15 net income by division

(note Amazon FBA Income May Be Off By A Little Here – FBA Affiliate Site Income Counted in Passive Income Portfolio – Total FBA Business Income ~$10k)


Final Comments

July was a good month to see that my increased effort on all fronts have resulted in growth on all fronts. Having sold off 2/3rd of my FBA business which had first helped push my business over the $30k threshold and to have now bounced back to it in what is often one of the slower seasons for online business it is great to see.

Right now I have reason to be excited about the next phase of the business with lots of growth projects on the go, a growing/awesome team, more hours for me to devote to the business and plenty of room for improvement for the steady divisions of the business I am excited for Q4! Even with all the good news there is still plenty of projects which are not yet on the trajectory I want them on!

I hope these income reports provide an insight into how I organize my various projects and include actionable details for others…most importantly I hope the historical nature of these reports show to people at the stage I was at a few years ago that it is possible to build up an online business that can fund your desired life.

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