Niche Surfer is now Digital Surfer!

Shawna Newman (Skipblast)


Las Vegas, Nevada



“Don’t be afraid to go against the herd mentality and do your own thing with your sites. Be careful which thought leaders you follow and trust as they may not have your best interests at heart. “

published: March 12, 2022

The Interview

1. Where do you live?

I’m currently back in Las Vegas, after spending a couple of years in the Netherlands. But I’m plotting my escape to Spain.

2. When did you start creating content?

I started my first sites back in 2005 on Blogspot, but didn’t get really serious about it until 2008.

3. Are you a full-time Creator?

Yes. I haven’t had a “real” job since 2008. Since then I’ve been building and flipping sites for a living.

4. What was the “Click” that made you decide you can make full-time money online.

I got laid off my job as a financial analyst in early 2008 and decided to use my time on unemployment to see if I could make this whole make money online thing work. A few weeks later I made $1800 in a single week – from a handful of Blogspot blogs! – and I knew I’d never sit in a cubicle again.

5. How many niche sites have you created?

Far too many to count. I’d guess that I’ve built and flipped 75-100 sites so far and I currently have 28 active sites in my portfolio, as well as 7 test sites.

6. How many are you still running now?

A total of 35 sites (28 active sites and 7 test sites).

7. Have you sold any sites or online businesses? And what was the ROI like?

Yes, I’ve sold sites for as low as $1000 all the way up to low six figures. Historically, my sweet spot has been selling once they reach the $2000 – $3000 monthly average range.

My best ROI may have been my first site I sold in 2014. It was 9 months old, with 20 posts that I wrote myself. A total of 30 hours spent working on the site, and it earned $4K from Amazon, and then I sold it for $20K.

8. How many sites or online businesses have failed or not gotten going?

I haven’t kept count, but I’m sure a conservative estimate would be 10% of them. I test a lot though, so there is always a high chance of failure with that.

9. How much are you earning each month?

  • $10,001 – $50,000

10. What are your current streams of revenue?

  • Affiliate Sales
  • Display Ads
  • Books and eBooks
  • Digital Products & Courses
  • Paid membership
  • Sponsorships / Direct ad sales

11. What are your Top 3 on-page SEO strategies?

1. Internal linking. I’ve been banging this drum for years, but it’s often more effective than external backlinks.

2. Publishing content in topic clusters. The best way to maximize your ROI is by utilizing a topic clusters strategy. The results can be amazing.

3. Keywords in headers. Always put primary and secondary keywords in your H2s, H3, etc to tell Google what your page is about. Often ranking issues can be fixed just with this.

12. What’s the biggest issue(s) that you’re facing today?

The Google indexing issues have been quite frustrating lately when launching new sites. But my never-ending struggle seems to be finding (and keeping) good writers.

No matter how much they get paid, writers always seem to decline in quality for me. If a good, dependable writer is reading this and wants work, contact me!

13. What tool(s) do you rely on the most?

  • Ahrefs
  • Excel/Google Sheets

14. What has been the biggest mistake you made?

Relying on other people’s recommendations instead of doing my own testing. Early in my career I was frustrated not seeing the results I thought I should when following guru advice. That’s when I started keeping sites just for testing and I really should have done that sooner.

15. What has been the best decision you’ve made?

Doing my own testing. The only way to truly know what’s working, without risking the health of your sites, is to have dedicated testing sites where you try out every hypothesis you have.

You’d be surprised how many thought leaders not only share tips and hacks well after they’ve stopped working, but just outright promote tactics and strategies that don’t move the needle at all.

16. What’s one thing that you felt accelerated your journey the most?

Investing in myself. Early in my journey I was hesitant to spend money on forums, courses, etc., but $10/month for a now-defunct private SEO forum helped me put all the pieces together and turbo boost this whole thing.

Sure, you can find plenty of info for free on blogs, forums, YouTube, etc. but you don’t realize the value of being taught by someone successful until you spend that money. I think that’s both due to information overwhelm since there’s so much free content out there and the fact that the vast majority of that free content is rubbish.

17. What’s your 12 month goal?

I’ve got a few sites I’m planning six figure exits for in the next 12 months and one site where I’ll be attempting to do a really ambitious new revenue stream that could potentially increase that site’s monthly revenue by several thousand dollars.

That last one is something new for me that I’m really excited about and will be sharing on Skipblast later this year/early next year (even if it fails, haha). 

18. How do you stay up to date on the SEO, affiliate marketing, display ad, and other news?

I lurk on a variety of SEO forums and groups, but I’d say in the last 6 months that SEO Twitter has really gotten more valuable and has actually surpassed the typical Facebook groups in terms of value.

19. What do you eat or drink for fuel to keep going?

I drink a lot of coffee…a lot. My favorite beans come from Tony’s Coffee, if anyone is looking for a new brew. 

20. Where can people follow you?

I blog sporadically at, sometimes send out exclusives to my email list, and I’m on Twitter @shawnanewman

BONUS: Anything else you’d like to share that can help others?

Don’t be afraid to go against the herd mentality and do your own thing with your sites.

Be careful which thought leaders you follow and trust as they may not have your best interests at heart.

Avoid being a douche bag – this industry has enough reputation challenges as it is.

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