I do SEO. In my pajamas.
I’ve been living my best “daytime pajamas” life and doing this full-time since April 18, 2009 (my first day of cubicle freedom, though technically it was a Saturday – but that still counts, right?) and have seen my income go from nothing to five figures a month.
I build and flip sites for a living.
My biggest income month was around $20K (so far?), but I usually flip my sites around the $2K-$3K/month mark instead of holding onto them for the long haul.
In mid-2014, I started an 11-month RTW trip that was financed by my niche sites.
In late 2015, Amazon closed one of my accounts and my partner & I had to sue them to get the money owed to us. (we won! and they had to pay our court costs!)
In 2019, supported by income from my affiliate sites, I sold everything that I owned and moved from Las Vegas to Amsterdam. (though I moved back to the US when the visa expired in 2021)
Most of my income comes from my portfolio of sites. But I also make money from ebooks, consulting/coaching, my SEO agency (started in 2017), and a few other random things.
I get asked a lot how I got into doing this for a living.
Here’s the quick read of that boring history lesson:
- While finishing up my MBA in 2007, got into making money online with Made For Adsense (MFA) sites (hello, famous Shoemoney check!) + PayPerPost + freelance writing (my undergrad is in English & Journalism)
- Lost my job in Los Angeles in 2008 when the recession hit = decided to focus on freelance writing + sites and not go back to a cubicle, cause fuck that
- Earned almost $2K in one week in 2008, took a sweet vacation to Steamboat Springs and never looked back
I’m not a guru. I’m just tired of hearing how there are no women in SEO or Internet Marketing. There’s plenty of us and we make bank just like the guys.
I’m also tired of seeing gurus selling courses and coaching on making money from SEO and niche sites when these same gurus haven’t ranked sites or made decent income from them in years (why people gotta be douche bags?).
I also do a LOT of testing with my sites. I have white hat sites and grey hat sites. I never rely on what the gurus preach as gospel (though at least two people I’ve shared info with are selling it now, go figure), as I prefer to run my own tests. So, if I tell you that something does/does not work, then you can bet your ass that I tested that shit myself. (but I still recommend you do your own testing)
Wanna get to know me better? Here’s some fun facts about me …
I watch a LOT of cartoons, mostly Adventure Time. LSP is my favorite character, followed closely by BMO. And lately I’ve been watching a lot of Steven Universe, Big City Greens (Tilly is my spirit animal), Molang, Ducktales, and Bob’s Burgers (I am so a Louise, lol).
I’m also super into board games, with Splendor being my current favorite thing to play.
I drink a LOT of coffee. Tony’s Coffee out of Bellingham, WA is my go-to brand when I’m in the USA. This is currently my favorite beans they sell.
Here’s a quickish timeline of my affiliate site portfolio growth that led to my build & flip model…
- In June 2014, I sold a 9-month old niche site for around $20K through Empire Flippers. I ended up pocketing over $16K after their fees. The site made me around $4K via Amazon Associates before the sale. Not bad for less than 30 hours of total work on the site, eh?
- In March 2015, I sold a year old site that was making $60/month (that I absolutely hated working on) for $1500. Not quite the ROI as the site above, but my heart just wasn’t in this one. Sold lots of other small sites in Q2 of 2015 as well.
- In August 2015, I sold an 11-month old niche site for over $25K through Empire Flippers. I ended up with almost $22K after their fees. The site made me just over $8K via Amazon Associates before the sale. The best part? This was a site that I started as a test! Yup, I made $30K from a test site! awesome.
- In 2016 I sold too many sites to keep track of. Let’s just say that it was an amazing year and I launched my first course teaching exactly how I build these sites and flip them for a nice payout.
- In 2017, I only sold one site, instead choosing to focus on growing my existing sites for a bigger payout. For me, 2017 was all about scaling up. I also started doing client SEO for a limited number of clients – focused primarily on link building.
- In 2018, I sold five sites (mostly through FEI). They were some of my bigger sites, which means that 2019 will be about rebuilding my portfolio with newer sites to get back up to my previous monthly income (before selling the sites).
- In 2019, I sold some of my big earners with FEI and Empire Flippers and started a new collection of new sites.
- In 2020, the world shut down but I kept working on new sites (long term assets without the intent of a quick flip) while existing sites continued to pay the bills. A rare year of no site flipping for me.
- In 2021, my focus was on hunkering down and focusing on growing existing sites with the target of a big exit in the future. Though I did manage to sell a couple of small sites privately.
I do this because I love SEO and the game of trying to rank a site and reverse engineering the SERPs.
And because a Bachelor’s degree followed by a MBA left me with six-figure debt that I’m trying to finish paying off (but honestly, at 2.5% I really am in no big hurry to pay it off right now, but I don’t want it to hang around forever, y’know).
And because I like to travel…a lot (if you’ve followed me on Instagram or Twitter then you know that I spend most of my income on travel).
Oh, and because I hate working in a cubicle (my last cubicle job was working as a financial analyst and before that several years as an accountant…yuck).
Honestly, I could give you a million reasons why SEO and online businesses in general are better than working a “regular” job, but I’ll stop here.
If you’re looking to get into the whole building affiliate sites and flipping them for big monies, then consider signing up for one of my courses. People say that I’m a good teacher. My mom says I’m a smartass. Told ya I’m totally a Louise 😉
14 thoughts on “About Shawna Newman”
So happy to have come across you Shawa. I just bought your course and am going through it now – you are definitely a rarity. Your honesty and no bullshit teaching is awesome. I started and stopped a niche site because I became overwhelmed – but you have inspired me to begin again – I too want out of the 9-5 so I am going to follow your teaching to the ‘t’ 🙂
I so happy to hear that you’re inspired to start back up with a site. Do reach out if you feel stuck and I’ll help if I can.
Good to read about your background, Shawna. So much of your journey resonated here, from the travelling to the knocking web design work on the head to the affiliate journey. From an ex-journalist and ex-Steamboat ski bum!
Ah, I love Steamboat so much! Though I’m a sucker for most cute mountain towns in Colorado. Happy to have you around, Steve 🙂
This is awesome. Congratulations on living the life. One a separate now, would the dynamics of the beginners course be focused on only affiliate sites or are they the same across board for sites like ecommerce. I own a brand ecom store and was wondering if the course might help.
I don’t have much experience with ecomm sites, and the course is more focused on doing affiliate/content sites. Sorry I can’t be of more help!
I hear good things about your courses and I enjoyed reading your ‘ about page ‘ let’s hook up sometime to chat.
I’ll send you an email 🙂
Bellingham? wat wat. Can I contact you when I go up there next to discuss SEO 🙂
Subbed to your emails. Similar to how I write and approach seo and ranking.
Though I am trying to get more links too
Ah, I don’t live in Bellingham, but I do love it there.
Hi Shawna–I saw you interviewed on Doug Cunnington show, and it made me psyched to see a woman (for a change) rocking it in this space. Your tips are golden, so I hit rewind several times to take notes. Glad to learn here that you teach a course, I’ll check out that link next. Keep rocking it lady!
Hey, thanks for the kind words!
Shawna, please continue the trend of naming your case studies after food. Next study: Project Cream Cheese.
lol, got it!