SPI 040: How a Space News Site Generates 5,000,000 Pageviews a Month with Fraser Cain

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In this session of the Smart Passive Income Podcast I’m happy to share yet another amazing success story, this time with Fraser Cain from Universe Today, a news site dedicated to the space and astronomy niche.

Universe Today pulls in a massive amount of traffic – up to 5,000,000 pageviews per month – and it generates an impressive 5-figures per month from Google Adsense too.

Yes, I said 5-figures per month from Google Adsense.

The reason I love this interview is because of Fraser’s willingness to share his tactics for getting traffic to his site and also because news sites, in my experience, are a bit harder to monetize.

He doesn’t sell any products, although I’ve noticed that just recently he’s opened up a “membership” program to basically get rid of ads on the site for those who donate, which at the moment seems like it’s being well received by his readership.

+1 for providing value and giving people information they want to read!

In this session you’ll learn about:

  • How (and why) Fraser creates evergreen content for a news site that’s constantly being updated.
  • The winning combo: SEO and patterns in your industry.
  • The primary method Fraser uses to guarantee web traffic to his site, even if Google went away.
  • The effect that some of the latest changes in Google has made on his traffic and earnings.
  • Two things that help his articles go ‘the most viral’.
  • Plus a whole lot more!

Right click here to download the MP3

Items mentioned in this podcast include:

Fraser also successfully implements the Be Everywhere strategy for his brand – and it’s perfect for the niche he’s in. He’s using his blog (of course) as well as a podcast (Astronomy Cast) and YouTube videos to deliver high-quality content in every which way possible, which also helps his brand become a significant authority in the space.

A big thanks to Fraser, again, for sharing his success story with us, and I apologize for my corny jokes at the end of the show 😉

Thank you all for listening, and if you haven’t done so already, use the links below to subscribe to the podcast feed! Or, if you have an iPhone or iPad, download the SPI iPhone application and listen to the podcast from there.

Please subscribe below to the podcast to get automatic updates for your device:


Click Here to Download the Transcript for Session 40 (PDF)

  • http://www.extraincomeblogger.com Sune’ Swanepoel

    Great session Pat, and I love the new look of your Transcript!

  • http://howtomakeawebsitetools.com/ Rohit @ HowToMakeAWebisteTools

    I checked out Universe today and what surprises me is that the design is almost just a plain installation of a popular theme Thesis. This shows me he is very focused on the content as long as the design facilitates it.

    • http://www.universetoday.com Fraser Cain

      Yeah, I’ve gone through many them changes and gotten increasingly frustrated at managing all the interactions. Thesis makes the Theme itself very stable, and then I use widgets and plugins to control everything on top of that. All of my theme headaches have disappeared.

      For many people, the theme itself is very important. For me, it’s just about keeping the content served up.

      • http://www.mytechshout.com Gowtham V

        Ya,you are right,after using thesis theme so much time has been saved for me to customize my skin,as thesis has made it a lot easier with hooks.Awaiting for Thesis 2.0 to get released soon.

  • http://talesofwork.com Kimanzi Constable

    This was a very inspiring podcast, I love when you do these Pat and I can’t wait untill I can be one of your interviews :)

  • http://trucklicense.net/get-cdl FreedomJackson

    There is a ton of stuff going on in space and people will never find something more interesting than the skies.

    Have you ever seen a shooting star?

  • http://www.shuckabuck.com/ Shuck @ ShuckaBuck.com

    I’ve known about Fraser for quite some time, and he knows his stuff! He gave me one piece of advice over a phone call a while back: focus.

    If you are laser focused in one niche, one website, one industry…you will be successful.

    Thanks for all the great advice over the years, Fraser!

  • http://www.mobileapptycoon.com Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Very interesting! Definitely shows that you can make money by writing about your passion no matter what it is (obviously within reason). And space is actually a great niche because there are always new discoveries and things happening! Congrats Fraser!


  • Glenn

    Can’t wait to listen to this one at work tonight; looks very interesting. Keep the success stories coming, Pat! They truly are inspirational.

  • http://philfaqs.com Dave Starr

    Great choice for this one, Pat. So much time is wasted on getting phony links to half-baked information … but 90% who complain about Google and traffic have never grasped the simple truth Clara Peller taught us years ago, “Where’s the Beef”

    Produce something and people will find it, regardless of Pandas or Penguins or any other zoo residents Google throws our way. One of the weaknesses of our Internet culture, especially in the make money world is, very short memories.

    People were making bank off the Internet long before there was a Google and most likely 15 years from now Google will be remembered like AltaVista is today … dimly.

    But the Universe will still be happening, Go Fraser.

    • Tim

      And how exactly will people magically find it Dave?

      • Pat

        Word of mouth, sharing via social media, being featured on and getting links on other sites, interviews, podcasts, youtube videos, his email list, his colleague’s email lists – all of which Fraser has. i wouldn’t be surprised if UT was featured in magazines too.

      • http://philfaqs.com Dave Starr


        If you think we will still be surfing in a browser and using Google’s current archaic 1990’s search interface 15 years from now, well, our vision of the future varies greatly, that’s for sure.

        My point is that search providers (and methods) come and go … the only thing certain here is change … sorry that I seem to have peed in your cornflakes, that was not my intent.

  • http://www.trovatten.com Frederik Trovatten

    I always get a smile on my face when I get the new SPI podcast in my mail. I’ll put it on right away and I look forward to hear what you and Fraser Cain come up with!

  • http://www.dormroomcash.com Adam

    This was a great interview.

    I have spent some time on UniverseToday and it is a great website. I wish I could get 5,000,000 page views per month.


  • http://contentmarketingup.com Michael Chibuzor

    Fraser is a cool guy. I’ve heard about him somewhere (can’t recall). Earning 5-figures per month from AdSense is what I like so much. I still make money from Google, but not in that range. Pat, you did well to bring Fraser to us. I had a good time listening. Great post as usual.

  • http://www.nichewebsites.com.au Ralph | Niche Websites

    It AGAIN shows a winning (long term) formula.

    Something you like + determination = success

    “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful” – Eric Thomas

  • http://www.sophistefunk.com/ Gregory Ciotti

    Love these types of interview Pat, the more interesting the niche, the better.

    If you ever want to hear about how to build a site around electronic music, let me know 😉

  • http://www.daddysbroke.com Craig

    5 million views per month? Wow. If only I could do something like that!

  • http://www.brucejonesdesign.blogspot.com bruce jones

    Excellent interview, just read the entire pdf, interesting to hear how many people he has to create this site, we always think how do these people do it, but you can if you have contributors. Great job

  • http://true-blood.net Mel

    What a terrific session, Pat. I always enjoy your podcasts, but this one rocketed into my Top 5. My brain is buzzing with ideas thanks to Fraser’s eloquence and generosity in sharing his experience. I just shared it with my Mastermind group, too. :)

  • http://www.beginningiosdev.com Shen @ BeginningiOSDev

    5,000,000 page views per month for that niche is insane.

    I think a great thing to take away from this is also how long he was willing to keep at it before he could replace his work income. Keeping at it for 5,6,7 years is no mean feat.

  • http://www.projectlifemastery.com Stefan Pylarinos @ Project Life Mastery

    Another great podcast, thanks Pat. Always looking forward to them.

  • http://nopassiveincome.com Chris

    Hi Pat, thanks for this story.

    I see, that Universe Today is a great, well designed website with a long history (is online since 1999 year). With that kind of site Fraser may really doesn’t depend on traffic from Google 😉

    BR, Chris

    • Jamie Hanson

      I wish there was a more vigours analysis of an article/podcast rather than slaps on the back.

      IM NOT A HATER. But i do run a business so numbers matter.

      5million page views and a 5 figure income!

      that a 1 million views to make 4 figures! YIKES

      lets assume the 5 figure incomes (why use that phrase! state or dont bother) is $99,999 per month

      So divide 99,999/5,000,000 = $0.02 per visitor. And thats after 13 years of hard work!!!

      So if you had 10,000 visitors (clicks through to your site) at that rate youd be looking at an income of $200 a month. I bet most of your do a whole lots better than that?

      This is the proof that great content makes a succefull site. It doesn’t.

      The design is also low quality.

      It fits a need and a niche.

      Qudos to the fraser but its not a business model. I’d want to be much more focused on the conversion rate and developing more valuable income streams. But then again I’d have done that at the end of year 1.

      NOR is it smart passive income. We’ll leave that to Pat :-)

      • http://howtospeak-japanese.com Yamato

        Seems you haven’t listened to all of the interview. Fraser states that his biggest monthly payout from Adsense was 24,000 $. This makes the calculation (visitors worth) even worse. But just think about how this kind of speciali interest traffic could be monetized. I just subscribed to his email newsletter to see what will come along that path.


        • Jamie Hanson

          Yes I was being kind 😉

          So fraser i see no response to teh question regarding the very very low income per visitor. Or do you have no input.

          The CTR mustbe around 0.02%

          Adsense can be the way to go.

        • Pat

          I don’t think looking at the income per visitor is a smart way to look at it – especially for this kind of site. As we all know, some visitors just don’t convert to anything, and on a news site, that’s even moreso the case. He’s making good money and he’s enjoying what he’s doing, so to me it doesn’t matter if he’s seeing 5 or 5 million visitors a month – he’s accomplished something a lot of people can only dream of…and again, in the space niche, doing something he loves.

          A more interesting number would be number of hours per week that he spends vs. how much he’s making. Especially when you consider most of his traffic is organic, and free – again, very impressive.

        • http://www.nichezilla.com Adam

          Hey Pat,

          The new transcript style is great. It’s easier for me to read at work instead of actually, you know…..doing work.

          I think most people are looking at the income figures and traffic just because the nature of the SPI blog.

          As cliche as it sounds, he has taken a true passion of his and made something extraordinary. What I could gather was his intent wasn’t to earn money initially but just to create something and learn from his creation.

          Definitely a very cool story!

        • http://www.methodsem.com Jason

          Pat – I am definitely in agreement that income per visitor might not be the best way to look at things in a market like this…

          However, it is interesting to think about different ways Fraser could monetize.

          I mean (just off the top of my head) – imagine if he created (or had his employees create) an eBook such as “The Beginners Guide To Astronomy” and gave it away for free with a flashy image in his sidebar (in exchange for emails – set up on a different list).

          Then, he could set up a small series of auto-responders to this new separate list.

          Finally, he creates another eBook that goes a little more in depth and calls it “From Beginner To Expert – The Last Astronomy Guide You Will Ever Need” and sells it for like $24.99. He puts this as an auto-responder on his newly created list.

          Now, let’s do the numbers…

          2,000,000 Unique Visitors X 5% CTR on his free eBook offer = 100,000 new subscribers per month

          100,000 new subscribers X 5% Conversion rate X $24.99 = $124,950

          Now I might be WAY off with these CTR and Conversion rate estimates, but it is certainly still interesting to ponder. Even if you change conversion AND CTR down to 1%, this would still imply an extra $4,998 per month.

          Definitely not trying to criticize what Fraser has already done, because he has created a FANTASTIC passive income business for himself. Just curious if he has ever considered something like this…

          Would love to hear some thoughts from Fraser on this, and your thoughts Pat.

          BTW – I’m a new subscriber to your blog and I love the podcasts… Keep up the GREAT work.

  • http://howtospeak-japanese.com Yamato

    Hi Pat & Fraser,
    thanks for the nice interview. It gives a lot of insights on how to develop and grow a site.
    Just a quick question to Fraser:
    What type of server are you using? Your loadtime is quite fast and is only negativly affected by the download of the unoptimized images. Optimizing images could speed up your site and also savwe bandwidth (cost).

    • http://www.universetoday.com Fraser Cain

      I’m using Amazon EC2. It’s very reasonably priced, but incredibly complicated.

      • http://howtospeak-japanese.com Yamato

        Hi Fraser,
        thanks for teh reply – difficult to understand pricing structure, but i will read on further.

  • http://www.theseedstosuccess.com Derek

    Hey Pat –

    Loved it as it spoke about two things I am really working on hard: Focus and Passion. Thanks for letting me know I am moving in the right direction.


  • http://breakthefear.com Matt Horwitz

    Pat, this was a great session! I really enjoy Fraser’s insight, genius, and work ethic! There’s no such thing as building a quick, shitty website, and then sitting on a beach for the rest of our lives – It always been about putting in the work first, then setting up systems.

    I really enjoyed his passion for the universe too – such a cool industry and his site is great!

  • Patrick

    Fraser is an amazing guy and his tool at Keyword Strategy (dot org) is extremely valuable. He had a programmer build it FOR HIM and so the tool is valuable and actually does what Fraser wanted it to do for HIS site.

    Definitely one of the best seo tools out there for content publishers…..

  • http://talesofwork.com Kimanzi Constable

    Pat the transcript for this episode is amazing, I can definitely see an improvement from the others! Rebecca is very talented!

  • http://www.ivblogger.com Sheyi @ Ivblogger.com

    I’ve downloaded the transcripts as usual and will surely read through. Its so nice reading that someone makes such amount of money monthly which is the dream of other people (me included).

    Will be back here after reading.


  • http://www.passivemoneytalk.com Scott Sanford

    Love this new podcast with Fraser Cain and following your perspective. Has definitely helped me get back on my feet again. Thanks.

    • http://www.passivemoneytalk.com Scott Sanford

      following your passions*

  • http://www.shalusharma.com Shalu Sharma

    I have head of universetoday.com. I thought that this site was managed by the USA government, didn’t know that it was a private site. 5 million page views is a quite an achievements, pure genius.

  • http://www.beforejoiningthemilitary.com Dane

    This is undoubtedly my favorite podcast to date. Fraser’s story is TREMENDOUSLY motivating. Well executed, Pat, and thanks.

  • benji
  • http://www.zd.se/ John Zenkert

    Awesome podcast!

    Looking forward towards the Blog World Expo video.

  • http://www.jobsinayurveda.com Bill @ Jobs in Ayurveda

    It was great to hear from the webmaster for Universe Today. I’m sure that website is gonna do even better with all the developments in corporate space travel. With Space-X’s recent successes, Planetary Resources, Inc. coming on line, and China’s first space station, there’s probably a bunch of new interest in working in the space industry.

    I used to advise young folks interested in technical school to go into welding for shipbuilding because it’s a totally lucrative trade with near guaranteed high wages. But recently, I’ve started advising those same prospective welders to go into aerospace fabrication or aerospace industrial engineering (if they can handle the math) because that is truly the future of the US fabrication industry.

    Frasier, what suggestions do you have for folks interested in working in the aerospace industry?

  • http://www.alexwisephotography.net/blog/ Alex

    Hi Pat,

    Great interview. May have listening to the podcast with envy for Fraser. Lucky guy.

    – Alex

  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    Great post, Pat. I enjoyed reading the transcript. Fraser is definitely a savvy guy, and his blog is top notch. If you can create a resource that combines news and evergreen content in a niche that you enjoy, you’re well on your way to building a great blog.

    Thanks for the interview!

  • http://trucklicense.net/Get-CDL Mike Jones

    Very interesting! Definitely shows that you can make money by writing about your passion no matter what it is (obviously within reason). And space is actually a great niche because there are always new discoveries and things happening! Congrats Fraser!

  • http://onlineaffiliatemarketing101.net/ Ben @ online affiliate marketing 101

    great podcast, keep up the good work!

  • http://www.itarticle.net Shifna

    Great article and very useful audio clip. Thanks for the post

  • http://sheseo.com SY

    Hi Pat,
    Thanks for putting up transcripts for those of us that don’t have perfect hearing. I was also shocked on how low, compared to visitor numbers, the income is, I think re-selling content that is already written as ebooks / Kindle books could help with that. Another thing that I find confusing is the amount of people that work on this website, up to 15. With some of them, including Fraser, full time and some part time, there is still not a lot left over. Let’s say he averages $20,000/month in income then subtract the cost for actually running the site with, let’s say $1,000/month (servers etc) that leaves $19,000 estimated. Divide that between 4 full timers and up to 11 free lancers and each persons income is really low – or do I overlook something? SY

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  • http://www.hoopsfix.com Sam

    Interesting podcast for sure! It’s always great to hear from bloggers doing something a little different and actually dominating a “real” niche instead of a typical blogging one (i.e. how to blog/internet marketing/make money online).

    My own site is a basketball based news site so there were a few interesting points in here for me – though like others have said, I’m sure with an audience that size, he could monetize it way better than purely with adsense.

    I for one will be following how Fraser continues to grow his business!

    Thanks for this Pat.

  • http://www.nichegrind.com Lindsay Collins | NicheGrind

    Great podcast. I use Universe Today quite a bit site since I am really into that kind of stuff.

  • http://www.ipassedmybarexam.com Dustin

    Loved Oregon trail!!! Except the part where you can only take part of the buffalo home that you killed for food!

    Timmy got snake bite!

  • http://slowroastedmoney.com Matt

    Hi Pat,
    Just wanted to stop by to say “thank you” for the podcast. I left you 5 stars on iTunes but also wanted to send you a message on your blog too.
    Keep up the great work, it’s appreciated.

    Be well,

  • http://www.nintendonoob.com/ Ron

    Great podcast. I just listened to it in the car today and the episode really focused on building communities, and posting great content. It is very helpful to new bloggers like myself. Thanks for sharing the links to all those things mentioned in the podcast. Keep up the great work!

  • Arnon Sricham

    I like a very much space
    I made a website about space.
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