2 weeks ago I stumbled on a goldmine… I think.
I’m a glass-is-half-full type of guy so every new thing is a goldmine. That’s putting it mildly. I’m wildly and sometimes recklessly optimistic.
I was monkeying around in Ahrefs doing keyword research. I was analyzing what keywords my site was ranking for. Particularly keywords where I was on the bottom of page 1 and anywhere on page 2 of Google (these are good opportunities to improve and get more traffic).
I stumbled on one keyword in particular that I was ranking on page 2 for. It was a great find for 3 reasons:
- I did not intend to rank for that keyword. It was accidental – just a consequence of publishing content;
- That keyword is searched 7,500 times per month according to Ahrefs; and
- It had a reasonably low keyword difficulty score of 9.
The best part of that keyword is it was a concept that led me to come up with 65 other keywords, all with great search volume, low keyword difficulty and fit perfectly in my niche.
Moreover, I knew exactly how to tackle this entire series of articles. It’s going to be a major hub in my niche site.
Since then, I’ve already published 4 articles, each with 6 to 10 supporting articles.
The downside is it will take 24 months to complete this series because each of those 65 keywords are going to be cornerstone articles with 10 to 30 supporting articles.
When the smoke clears, this hub will be approximately 1,000 articles. It’s going to be a lot of work. The potential pay off and additional traffic should be very good.
Below I set out good news and bad news about building niche websites.
Let’s start with the bad news.
Table of Contents
- The BAD News: It takes time
- The GOOD News: There are 7 ways to speed up the blogging process
- TIP: Keep your overhead as low as possible
The BAD News: It takes time
Staring down the barrel of a 1,000 article hub is a daunting task. It’s a lot of work, much of it tedious. I’ll outsource a good chunk of it, but I’ll be very involved.
Some days, when I get 2 supporting articles published, I think to myself “this project will never get done.”
It’s essentially the same as building out a large niche site within a niche site.
It’s slow going.
Results will take months.
I second guess the project sometimes.
I get distracted by other things.
However, when the doubt seeps in or I find myself doing less important tasks, I snap myself out of it.
It’s time to suit up, show up and keep chipping away.
It’s akin to running a marathon. One step at a time (not that I’ve run a marathon).
I’m an impatient person. When I come up with ideas, I like to complete them in a week at most.
There is no way this can be completed in a week. More like 1 year.
My solution is to break it down into bite-sized chunks.
In order to complete 1,000 articles in two years, I need to publish 1.5 per day. That I can do. On a good day, I can do 3. I’d do more, but I’m publishing other content as well. This project is just part of the site.
With game-plan in hand, it’s much more palatable to work on this project each day/week. In a given week it doesn’t seem like I make much headway. But knowing that if I stick to the plan and consistently publish 1.5 per day, I’ll complete the project in 2 years.
2 years isn’t long in this business (or any business)
While 2 years seems like a long time, it’s not. In fact, 2 years is a short time for any business.
I jumped into my business full time at the end of 2011. That’s about 7 years ago. Time goes fast.
The number one reason I’ve been able to grow my niche sites to current levels and am still in business is I’m consistent.
I show up Monday to Friday. Put in 6 to 8 hours like clockwork. Each day I don’t get much done, but over time it adds up to a lot.
You need a long term outlook
I know that many people reading this blog are in the beginning stages of launching a blog or niche site.
Understandably, you want it to be a big business earning mountains of revenue quickly.
The thing is, this business model, like most, take time and a lot of consistent effort.
If you’re just starting out, 3 months isn’t going to do it. 6 months won’t do it either. At the 12 month mark, you can start seeing some results. It’s at the 18 to 24-month mark where results get exciting.
Yes, some people do it faster. Experienced bloggers can achieve results faster. But when new, no matter how many courses you buy, results take time.
Resolve to suit up, show up and put in a consistent effort.
While the above isn’t what you want to hear, it’s a reality.
But, there’s some good news too. There are 7 ways to speed up the process. Let’s jump into that.
The GOOD News: There are 7 ways to speed up the blogging process
It’s not all doom and gloom.
There are several ways to speed up the blogging and niche site process. Please don’t get me wrong; these 7 tips won’t get results overnight. They just speed up the process. They are as follows:
There is no doubt that building links to your website speeds up organic traffic growth. I don’t build links because I don’t like the risk or the tasks involved, but I acknowledge when done well, it’s very effective.
I prefer instead to attract links, which I do quite well with graphics, charts and targeting long tail keywords publishing in-depth, very specific articles within my niches.
If I were to build links, I’d focus on publishing high-quality guest posts on websites with decent traffic. I’d take it slow and steady, but it seems to me to be the least risky approach.
The key to guest posting for links includes the following:
- Figuring out how to scale it
- Minimizing risk from a Google search penalty
- Keeping your cost per link down as low as possible
While I’ve NOT gone this route with my niche sites at scale, if I were going to do this, I’d seek out websites in my niche with decent traffic and offer really good content for them.
I’m happy to publish guest posts on my sites when the content is exceptional that displays expertise that I could not offer. These articles benefit my readers.
Therefore, I would offer other websites the quality that I would accept. I’m talking about 1,800 to 2,500 word articles that cover something very specific that any site in the niche would love to publish.
It’s not that hard.
Yet, some people/agencies that build links make it that hard. Here’s an example of some back and forth emails I’ve had with several people looking to get published on my sites.
Blah, blah, blah… I’d love to contribute a very high-quality article to your website.
Blah, blah, blah… looking forward to your response.
Sally Guest Poster
Hi Sally Guest Poster,
Thanks for your interest in contributing to my site. I do accept guest posts. Here’s a suggested topic:
“Ultimate guide to guest posting”
Here are the requirements:
3,000 to 3,500 words. It must cover the topic completely.
Please include real-life examples with screenshots.
Use proper heading structure (h2, h3, etc.).
Kindly link out to multiple references and sources.
You may put one dofollow link in the article to a relevant piece of content on your site.
I look forward to working with you. Kindly confirm you accept this assignment.
The usual response I get:
Thank you for getting back to me.
Due to our budget, I can only offer a guest post that is no longer than 600 words.
I’m sure 600 words will cover your suggested topic very well.
I’ll send you my awesome article in 1 week.
Sally Guest Blogger
Unfortunately, 600 words won’t do it. I’ll have to pass on your offer.
Thanks again for contacting me.
I understand totally. I talked to my boss and she said we can offer a 750 word guest post.
A 750 word article from us will be epic.
I’ll have it to you in 1 week.
Me again if I feel like responding (at this point is stop responding):
Sorry, 750 words won’t do it.
I have to pass. I’m sure another blog will be delighted with it.
How insane is that?
After all that outreach work, a guest blogger detonates their chance to get on a high DA website because of word count.
If I were into guest posting and someone spoon-fed me a topic and gave me a word count, I’d deliver. The heavy lifting is done. All that remains is paying $70 for the article. $70 for an article on a high DA website is a good deal. They’re probably charging their client $150+.
2. Target long tail keywords
If you like sitting in position 86 in Google, target the same high search volume keywords that everyone does.
If you like staking your claim in position 1 of Google, find good keywords that nobody else targets. Then publish a killer article covering that keyword. It’s that simple.
Even if you only get 50 visitors per month, you’ve staked your claim and are getting traffic.
When you rinse and repeat the process enough, your traffic adds up.
As your traffic adds up, so too do inbound links. In turn, site authority builds so you can potentially rank for better keywords.
That is my process.
As stated in Tip#1 above, building links will speed up the process (but increases risk).
If you don’t know how to find long tail keywords, my course (be sure to read “7. Learn from right courses” below before buying my course) covers it well offering several novel approaches that I’ve used for years.
3. Buy an aged site
I used to think buying websites was a bad idea. My flawed reasoning was why buy one when I could launch one in minutes.
However, one day, I pulled the trigger and dropped $10K on an established site. I had no idea what I would do with it. I held onto it for 3 years before I came up with a game plan.
When I bought this site, it was 8 years old, had over 1,000 referring domains, plenty of good content and strong DA. I was confident the site wasn’t penalized or had any spammy problems with it.
Once I started executing my plan, the results were fast. Much faster than had I started from scratch.
Within 5 months, the site was up to $1,400 to $1,800 per month revenue. I had increased its value many times in a matter of months. I’m still growing that site.
This experience sold me on the benefit of buying an aged site for speeding up growth.
4. Outsource content production
When I started online, I wrote everything. I wrote all day long. It was a lot of work. I did this for years.
Once my revenue hit a certain level, I was able to outsource a little content. This increased how much content I could publish each month, which sped up growth.
Over time, I reinvested profits into content (and still do).
More content equals more profit when it comes to the types of niche sites I publish.
Since you can only write so much, the only way to scale content production is to outsource.
Content is a numbers game
I know not every piece of content I publish will be successful financially. But some are. It’s just a matter of trial and error figuring out what works best and doing more of that.
When an article is successful, it’s very successful. Get enough of those and it more than makes up for the duds.
5. Buy traffic
Buying traffic to ad-supported content sites is a lot harder than it was 4 years ago. These days you’ll usually lose money on ad-supported sites. If you run an e-commerce store, it’s not hard buying traffic. This course teaches how to do that.
However, there are ad-supported content sites still buying traffic, so it’s possible. I know, because I click the native ads on CNN and other sites. You will have to invest a lot of time and suffer losses until you hit winners. When you hit a winner or two, that’s when you can scale your site up fast.
TIP: Don’t become entirely dependent on paid traffic. Milk it for all it’s worth, but at the same time optimize your content and your site for organic search traffic. I believe buying quality traffic helps SEO. I can’t prove it, but it makes sense. More traffic means more shares, exposure and links. It’s bound to help SEO in the long run. However, you must optimize for search as well.
Pinterest is certainly not an instant traffic machine, but it’s faster than organic search. If you pin something that people save and repin, you can generate traffic quickly. It’s also easy and fast to pin so the time investment is minimal.
Of course, Pinterest works best in visual niches. That said, with clever pin design and titles, you can gain traction in non-visual niches. Many personal finance/mommy bloggers manage to make Pinterest work very well. You know the sites… budgeting, couponing, DIY, etc. The audience is on Pinterest big time, so more mundane business topics can perform well.
Since I get 10 million monthly Pinterest impressions and 300K monthly page views from Pinterest, I know a bit about Pinterest marketing which I also cover in my course (be sure to read “7. Learn from right courses” below before buying my course).
7. Learn from the right courses
Buying courses is a double-edged sword. It’s certainly no guarantee to success and riches. Sometimes, they can be a detriment. This comes from a guy who sells a course.
I’ve bought dozens, probably hundreds of courses. On the balance, I’m ahead but I’ve wasted a lot of time and money on stinkers or courses that weren’t a good fit for what I do.
Speed up your growth: If you buy a good course that helps you, that’s worth many times what you paid for it. For instance, if you pay $297 for a course and it sets you on track to $3,000 per month and more, that is one good investment. The problem is you probably invested in many courses by that time. But you’re likely still ahead. I know I am.
Distraction: Getting distracted and changing direction as a result of a course is the biggest con. You’re chugging along growing your blog when you read the sales page that promises you instant wealth. You buy the course. You go through it and get excited. The problem is it’s an online business model totally different than what you’ve been building. Nevertheless, you spend 1 month working on the new model only to discover it’s not working as fast as promised. You throw up your hands in frustration and return to your blogging project. Don’t worry if this has happened to you; it’s happened to all of us. It’s happened to me many times.
Time and money: an unhelpful course is a waste of time and money. It takes time going through a course. Some courses take a day or two to go through. Also, these days courses aren’t cheap. You can easily spend $500+ on a course which is a lot of content.
8. Optimize monetization
If I had a nickel for every under-monetized site I visited, I’d be rich.
Just today I read a blog where the blogger was considering a paywall in an effort to increase revenue because ads weren’t cutting it. This is a high-traffic site. The problem is the ad placement is terrible. No site would make money. Granted, he also didn’t like having to monetize with ads so he probably intentionally kept ads to a minimum and unobtrusive.
My thinking is that’s shortsighted. As a visitor, I’d much rather put up with ads than pay $50 per month (which he was considering charging). Heck, hit me with some popups and video ads – that’s worth me saving $50. His content is outstanding and it’s a site I visit regularly.
I was tempted to comment and tell him he’s leaving millions on the table with his lousy ad set up, but I restrained myself. He probably knows that. His problem is he wants his cake and to eat it too.
Maybe he received some complaints from readers about the 2 ads on the site and took it personally. I surprisingly don’t get too many complaints about ads on my sites, but once in a while I do. I ignore them and I sure as heck don’t change anything because a few people complain. If 1,000 people complained and there was a particular ad they didn’t like, I’d consider removing that ad (I’m not totally heartless).
The point is, if you want to grow, you need revenue. Part of growing revenue is optimizing your ad revenue (or affiliate revenue… or whatever monetization method(s) you use).
In case you want to know, my highest earning ad network is this one.
TIP: Keep your overhead as low as possible
A lot of content sites make the fatal mistake of hiring too much staff and paying for unnecessary perks like fancy offices, etc. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Me, I’d rather stay a one-man-shop and as lean as possible. For more on this, check out The Easy Answer to Why Big Content Sites Lose Money: Ignoring Simple Math.
I don’t like legal problems. I asked my lawyer to draft an affiliate disclaimer.
She sent me a 500-word affiliate disclaimer that would cover all the bases.
She’s paid by the hour so who can blame her for coming up with 500 words.
The problem is I didn’t understand any of it. I shot her an email asking her if the following would be okay: “Please note that all links in this post are affiliate links. If you click a link and buy something, I earn a commission.”
She responded “yeah, that covers it. By the way, did you get my Invoice for services rendered? I applied a discount; you only owe me $500.”
Just so you know, the following affiliate disclaimer applies to this post:
“Please note that all links in this email are affiliate links. If you click a link and buy something, I earn a commission.”
And no, I didn’t ask my lawyer to draft an affiliate disclaimer, but it would be interesting to see what I’d get if I did.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.