Chanda Torres was able to turn her post-retirement boredom into a profitable niche site. After several decades in the non-profit sector, she pivoted once she left the workforce and tried her hand at creating a website. Gifter World was born.
With no previous experience with web design or SEO, she figured it out along the way. Today her site is earning $5k per month.
Keep reading to find out:
- What she did prior to creating her niche site
- Why she created her website
- How her website is organized
- Where her income comes from
- Her unique marketing strategy
- How she learned SEO
- Her approach to link building
- Her content creation process
- Which resources and tools she uses
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Chanda Torrey
My name is Chanda and I worked as an executive in the non-profit sector for nearly 20 years, including working with the Peace Corps in Belize for 4 years.
After retiring, I became incredibly bored after about 2 weeks, so I started my Gifter World website as a hobby. Ultimately, it became a business.
Why She Created Gifter World
I started Gifter World in 2019 and it steadily grew. After about a year, I saw that it was really taking off and it was so exciting.
Gifter World is a website with unique gifts for those who have everything. I search the internet for unique 5-star items from reputable companies and I make sure they have the best price. So instead of you spending hours researching the best gifts, I do the work for you.
I used to be terrified of shopping for others. I would freak out and would be crying on the floor of the mall within 20 minutes. But then I realized I was thinking of gift-giving all wrong. Most adults will buy what they want or need, so gifts should be fun, unexpected, and possibly something they’ve never seen before.
Once I realized the secret to gift-giving, I fell in love with it. I look forward to birthdays and Christmas every year. But because I remember how traumatic shopping used to be for me, I wanted to create a website with cool ideas for others who struggle too.
And if someone still can’t find something on Gifter World, I offer a free gift concierge service. They can email me with information about the recipient and I will send them some ideas. If they don’t like any of the ideas I send them from my website, I will search the internet for ideas on other websites.
I get about 10-15 people per month who reach out to me for gift concierge help. Around the holidays I get a lot more so it is usually about 40 people in December. I actually really enjoy helping them and it is so much fun coming up with ideas for them. Of course, I have many friends who ask me for help on a daily basis, but I wasn’t counting them in the number.
How Much Money She’s Making
I have 300+ partnerships with various companies and make about $5,000 per month from them if added all together. When I find an interesting item I want to feature on my website, I reach out to them to work out a deal. When I refer people to their website, they give me a small percentage. This costs my readers absolutely nothing (in fact, they usually save money) so it is a win-win for everyone.
My partnerships are affiliate partnerships and the terms are different with each company and the percentage they give me varies. Some companies even give my readers a discount so we negotiate to work it out.
I have over 1,000 items on my website and about 200 gift guides. The gift guides are a list of my favorite items for a specific type of person. For example, I have gift guides for pool owners, relaxing gifts for women, gifts for couch potatoes, gifts for grandma, etc.
I even use my own gift guides when I need to shop for someone. I look through the gift guides that match the recipient’s interests to refresh my memory of all of the great options. It makes shopping so much faster.
It took about 2 years to reach my current revenue level. Although, I still remember the first day I launched my company. I only made about $20, but it was so exciting. And seeing it grow over time while doing what I love is rewarding.
How much time I work on my business varies every week. Sometimes, I spend 40 hours a week and sometimes I don’t work for a month. It probably averages out to about 10 hours a week. I love that I can work anywhere in the world, and I can take unlimited time off whenever I want. After working 80+ hours a week for decades, it’s great to have a balance.
Chanda’s Main Marketing Strategy
I like to go to networking events often.
There are many different networking events for me locally. The Chamber meetings always have hundreds of people. There are also various other groups like Executive Women groups, Leaders in the Community groups, and happy hour get-togethers. If you search “networking events near me,” you’d be surprised how many pop up.
When I was younger, I was painfully shy and despised going to networking events. But then I realized that everyone is awkward and nervous just like me. I found that if I just went up to strangers and said hello, they were grateful and eagerly engaged in conversations.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is important for small businesses. We’re competing with huge companies that easily rank on the first page and if you aren’t on the first page, it’s hard to be seen at all.
Prior to starting my website, I had never even heard of SEO. I watched and read everything I could find in order to learn about it. Udemy has some great SEO classes that are only about $10.
I brainstorm ideas for gift guides I want to write and then I research how many people Google that term per month. Then I look at the websites that are on the first two pages to see if they’re things I can compete with. If there are a lot of people Googling it but very few good articles that come up, then I know it’s a win.
In order to get more in-depth information on specific keywords, I look them up on Spyfu, Semrush, and Neil Patel. I try to find keywords that get at least 1,000 inquiries per month with very few competitors.
Organic link building is important, but it is also important to not hire a company that will just get you a bunch of useless links because those can work against you. Having a bunch of spammy backlinks will just lower your ranking. If you have a good website, the links should come naturally.
I have hired people in the past to do link building but I find that getting organic links is much better. I’ve hired people in the past and some were good and others just got links on social directories and those types of links didn’t seem to do much. Now I just get organic links.
Her Content Creation Process
Although I research keywords for article ideas, sometimes I just write something because it’s something I want to write about and don’t care if it ranks or not. It makes writing content much more fun.
After I decide what gift guide topic I want to write, I research for hours to find interesting gifts that fit and make sure they’re good products. Oftentimes, products will show they have 5 stars, but if you look deeper, that might not be the case.
Companies can put any reviews they want on their websites, so I don’t give much weight to those. And if you look at Amazon reviews, sometimes the reviews are for a different product than the one they’re selling. I look at all of this so you don’t have to.
I have a regular gift section where it’s like any website store, and then I have another section that has gift guides. Each gift guide is a list of my favorite items for a specific type of person.
I have about 1,000 gift pages and about 200 gift guides.
Chanda’s Favorite Resources
I take a lot of classes on Udemy for SEO and web development.
Prior to starting Gifter World, I didn’t have experience in either, so I was clueless.
I would watch an Udemy class and have to Google every other word I heard. It got easier and easier every day, but each class would take me a very long time due to having to stop to Google each term.
I like to take various classes for SEO because all of them give slightly different information, but one of my favorites is SEO 2023: Complete SEO Training.
Her Top Tools
Finding the right keyword research tool that works for you is important. There are many out there:
I use a combination of all of them. None of them are completely accurate, but they can give you a good idea of how hard a keyword would be to rank for, and they help track your keywords.
I mostly use Spyfu because it is cheaper and gives me the information that I need, and I like the format for how they track keywords. Ahrefs is probably better, but it isn’t needed at this time. I will probably switch at some point. And Neil Patel has some great features that are free, so I also do searches on there frequently.
Chanda’s Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge is competing against big companies. It seems that every magazine or website writes articles about “The Best Gifts for ____.”
Because they’re large companies, they will rank on page one even if their gifts on the list are ordinary and unimaginative. So finding a way to beat them will always be a challenge.
I’ll never be able to compete with companies like Forbes, but that’s ok. I just need to keep writing good content and finding unique gifts that are high quality so people keep coming back.
Sometimes, I will find a weird item and I really want to add it but the reviews are horrible, so I don’t. I keep telling myself to stick to my brand and customers will always come back.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
My biggest accomplishment is that I started a website and had no idea how to do web development. I am not very techie and I feel like I constantly have problems even when I try to turn on my TV.
Basically, I told myself I was going to launch my website so I was determined to make it happen. And once I launched it and saw that people were actually reading it and complimenting me on the products, it felt like a rush. Every time someone reaches out and tells me they found something amazing on Gifter World, it warms my heart and gives me the drive I need.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known that it’s better to narrow down your niche to avoid massive competition. I would probably still stick with my niche because I truly enjoy it, but it would have prepared me a bit more.
Her Main Mistake
I decided to take several months off of writing and my rankings dropped a lot. It’s fine to take a month off, but when you go months without updating your website, Google will think you aren’t current. Now I make sure I work on it each week.
I do most of the stuff myself, but now I have a web developer that I found on Upwork, and he has saved the day many times. Whenever I mess something up and can’t figure it out, I reach out to him for help.
Shortly after I started my website, I thought I had deleted the whole thing. I freaked out because I was sure all of my hard work was gone, but he was able to fix it within minutes.
I mostly do all of the writing but occasionally hire a writer who I also found on Upwork if I have several articles I want to write at the same time. I find all of the products and then send them to her, and she writes the gift guide descriptions for me.
I found that Upwork is great for finding people to hire. You can find anyone on there and see their reviews and their work. You can find writers, web developers, SEO managers, logo creators, and more.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Stick with it. Having a business is like a roller coaster, and there will be ups and downs so don’t get discouraged. Persistence pays off.