Blogging in a Post-HCU World: The Savvy 7-Figure Online Business

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Google’s Helpful Content Update (HCU) hit a lot of online businesses hard.Kelan Kline Even well-established and authoritative websites experienced a significant drop in their rankings.

That’s why I went behind the scenes with Kelan Kline from The Savvy Couple, which has weathered the storm quite well.

Kelan built his online business up from making $50 in the first year to now seeing around 500k pageviews a month. That led to his online business making 7-figures last year.

Tune in to Episode 605 of the Side Hustle Show to learn:

  • Strategies for creating content that resonates with Google’s algorithm changes
  • Ways to diversify traffic sources beyond just Google search
  • Tools/tech for content creation, email marketing, monetization, and more.


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Building Brand Authority After Google’s HCU

Kelan says a strong online brand is essential to surviving Google algorithm updates like the HCU.

“You have to build a brand,” he said, emphasizing the importance of social media, email lists, and video.

Backlinks from respected sites still carry weight in rankings. Staying in a niche also helps bloggers become the trusted source their audience relies on.

Creating Genuinely Helpful Content

But brand-building alone isn’t enough in Google’s eyes. Their crackdown demands truly helpful content that provides unique value beyond simply rewriting what’s already out there.

Heatmap Illustration from Crazy Egg

Kelan creates YouTube videos summarizing his blog posts to showcase his authority and experience on each topic. Tools like and Crazy Egg allow him to analyze visitor engagement metrics and optimize content layouts.

He also uses AI writing assistants like SurferSEO, Jasper AI, and ChatGPT. This accelerates production while preserving the human touch of the final product.

The Content Production Engine

Kelan’s team uses Asana for content workflow management. For The Savvy Couple, they publish 2-3 new posts per week, with a production cost around $150-200 each. For the newer The Savvy Mama blog (managed by his wife Brittany), that volume is ramped up to around 4-5 posts weekly.

Savvy Mama

They set a minimum of 500 monthly searches (per Ahrefs data) for new topics but don’t obsess over “keyword difficulty” scores. As long as at least one other blog ranks in the top 10 results, they’ll take a swing at that keyword.

“Make sure that when you’re doing keyword research, there’s at least one other blog that’s similar to yours within the SERPs or within the top 10. Because if it’s Forbes and New York Times … there’s no way you’re going to rank,” he shared.

The Content Audit and Republishing Process

Nowadays, more of Kelan’s content team’s time is spent updating and republishing existing articles rather than creating net new pieces.

SavvyCouple Blogs

Using SurferAI, they’ll analyze posts that are losing traffic according to Ahrefs data. Those audits identify what user experience or content upgrades are needed, like adding new videos, visuals, or interviews to make the post more valuable.

It’s a bit of a never-ending cycle. “By the time you’re done updating everything, it’s time to start back over at the beginning and do it all over again.”

However, content updates are crucial to maintain a high-quality library that Google likes after the HCU changes.

Diversifying Traffic Sources

While the email lists don’t convert particularly well for course sales/affiliate offers, Kelan does use them strategically to send traffic and engagement signals to new blog posts.

He’ll typically include a link to one or two fresh articles in the regular email newsletter send to that “warm” audience. Those initial surges in pageviews right after publishing can give posts a visibility boost in Google.

Email lists are built primarily through ConvertBox exit-intent popups promoting lead magnets like “Ready to Find Your Perfect Side Hustle?” quiz popup, or general opt-in offers for organization/productivity tips for moms.

The bigger traffic diversification play has been creating videos summarizing the same topics and keywords as Kelan’s top posts, then embedding those clips on the corresponding blog pages.

This allowed his “7 Best Budgeting Apps for 2024 (Mint Alternatives)” video to explode to 46,000+ views—generating a ton of new affiliate conversions and traffic back to the blog.

YouTube video

Pinterest has also become a major traffic source, especially for The Savvy Mama thanks to acquiring another site’s 100,000 follower Pinterest account.

And paid ads were a major investment, with Kelan’s team spending up to $10,000 a day at one point on Facebook campaigns to rapidly grow the Savvy Mama membership base around the holidays.

The Chaos to Control Bundle Funnel

Chaos to Control Bundle

Much of Kelan’s advertising dollars go toward promoting the SavvyMama side of the business.

A core funnel starter offer is the Chaos to Control bundle of digital products and printables designed to help busy moms get organized.

That bundle has a $35 average order value once you factor in upsells. Through some serious testing and tracking, Kelan found the cost to acquire those customers lands around $30 each.

The real goal of those paid campaigns is to get buyers into the membership lifecycle.

While the initial bundle transaction has a low(ish) profit margin, Kelan said it’s really about converting those customers into recurring subscribers.

The Savvy Mama Membership

Kelan said they follow a sequence outlined in Create & Go’s Six-Figure Course Creator. It all starts with agitating the problem potential members are struggling with.

There’s also an element of scarcity and limited time bonuses. For example, the Chaos to Control bundle might be offered as a bonus that goes away if you don’t join the membership within the launch window.

Kelan noted this evergreen launch funnel is all facilitated through ThriveCart. This all-in-one platform handles checkout flows, membership access, and content delivery for just a $495 one-time fee instead of recurring monthly charges from some competing solutions.

Savvy Mama Membership

Once they join the membership, subscribers get access to a library of printables, meal plans, calendars, and other premium digital downloads refreshed every month. There’s also a Facebook group community component.

The membership was initially priced at $9 per month (they got the idea from Liz Wilcox), but it is now around $17 per month.

Just around 2 years in, the Savvy Mama membership has rapidly grown to over 2000 active paying subscribers.

The Tools and Tech Stack

To handle all of this, Kelan has an extensive tech stack powering the content production, website, email marketing, and membership sides of the business:

  • SurferSEO, Jasper AI, and ChatGPT – AI writing tools to assist with outlining, drafting, and optimizing blog content
  • HeatMapIt and Crazy Egg – Heat maps and scroll tracking to analyze how visitors engage with each webpage
  • Asana – Project management hub for delegating writing tasks to the freelance content team
  • ConvertBox – Popups and lead capture tools to build the email lists
  • ThriveCart – All-in-one platform handling Savvy Mama membership sales, access, and content delivery
  • Mediavine – Display ad network to monetize the growing blog traffic

A Day in the Life of a 7-Figure Blogger

With so many moving parts, you might expect Kelan and his wife Brittany to be chained to their computers 12 hours a day. But they’ve established efficient systems and brought on a team to divide up the workload.

Kelan described a fairly focused 3-4 hour work day. “After that, my brain is complete mush. I don’t know how people work 8 hours a day, I just become so less productive after 4 hours of deep work,” he admitted.

An operations manager runs point on the team of writers, editors, and virtual assistants actually doing the bulk of the day-to-day content creation, optimization, and other tasks.

Kelan just checks in to review analytics and identify which of their top 20 posts need further optimization efforts.

Challenges and Surprises

Business hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though.

Kelan recalled the painful experience of one of his top affiliate income streams—a partnership promoting the Steady App gig work service—shutting down unexpectedly.

“At our peak, we were making close to $5,000 per month. And if you extrapolate that out 12 months, that’s $60,000. And then all of a sudden, they come over and say, ‘Hey, program’s closed.'”

That taught Kelan how important it is to have different sources of income.

Hence, the Savvy Mama membership, “It’s been such a blessing to take the stress off of owning the Savvy Couple and being so reliant on Google by having this recurring monthly membership that we can rely on,” Kelan added.

What’s Next for the Savvy Blogger?

Looking ahead, Kelan’s goal is to continue growing the membership to 10,000 members, further strengthening that recurring revenue foundation.

YouTube is another major priority he’s doubling down on. With a powerful “double-dip” SEO strategy by co-producing videos and blog posts around the same topics, Kelan sees big potential on the video platform before AI-powered content oversaturates it.

Kelan’s online business, mixing blogs and videos with multiple income sources, is bound to not only survive but to also do well in the post-HCU era.

Kelan’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

“Action over perfection.”

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

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