Make Money With Niche Sites – Progress Report #4 (Week 4)

The dance of capitalist superiority.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Let’s Make Money Online with Niche Sites.

Today we’ll conclude the first month of this follow-along.

Recap: In the beginning of August I launched 3 new niche sites. The results have been both underwhelming and surprisingly good.

New content posted this week

There’s not very much to report I’m afraid. I always update and add new content to existing pages rather than create new pages whenever possible.  I figure that concentrating any new search traffic that the content attracts to existing pages that already convert is better than spreading it all out.  This also has the added effect of making the site look less spammy.

I’ve been front loading the content that I am creating with keywords that only target people with their credit cards in hand.  That being said, the blog posts are actually helpful to the visitors.  All of the content I’m adding tells visitors to either

  • click my affiliate links and buy some stuff
  • or sign up to my email list.

Once I’ve covered all the top buying terms I’ll find someone to write some niche relevant fluff articles.

How much content did I add to my niche sites this week?

  • Upgraded 3 pieces of content on Niche Site G.
  • Posted 0 pieces of content to Niche Site B.
  • Posted 2 pieces of content to Niche Site A.

How much time do I spend working vs goofing off?

In the interest of gathering data I’m actually treating this project semi-seriously.  Last week I installed ManicTime to track how much time I spend working vs. wasting away on the computer.

As you can see I have a serious problem.

Thank goodness I already have existing streams of income or else I’d be out on the streets.

Actual time working vs. surfing the web

Professional slacker checking in.

So how much time does it take to create each new piece of content?  What steps does my process consist of?

Here’s a breakdown of the entire process from choosing products to promote to writing and ending with social media promotion:

  • My post lengths average 1440 words long.
  • I usually find 2-4 products to promote.
  • Pre-writing and research tasks include
    • gathering product images
    • making affiliate links
    • filling in my post skeleton with features/benefits and buyer questions and reviews
    • creating a table of contents and a price comparison table for the products mentioned in the post
    • finding quotes and sources to add to the post
    • and finally I’ll photoshop some social media friendly pictures to use as my featured image.
  • Once all that’s done I’ll flesh out the post and write the conclusion and intro.  Finish by tying everything together in a nice cohesive essay.
  • When the post is complete I’ll insert some buy buttons and call to actions at strategic locations.
  • Before the post goes live I’ll do a final edit and read-through.  This is when I add images and fiddle with the html/css.
  • Once the content goes live I then promote the new content on social media platforms.  This is all done automagically with the SNAP PRO plugin for wordpress. The only thing I do manually is respond to messages and schedule an extra repost several hours later on tumblr & twitter.

Total time from research to promotion: 1 hours 47 minutes.

Quick tip: Stop staring at and fiddling with ugly html while you write.  Use markdownpad or writemonkey to compose your blog post.  Formatting and affiliate links can be inserted on the fly once you’ve finished writing.  Just hit “copy as html” and presto!  I don’t touch any html until the very last edit when I paste the content into wordpress.

Traffic for niche sites

As of now the traffic split between search and social is 89% to 11%.  I would like to see this change as relying on Google for so much of my traffic makes my stomach churn.

Remember that I am not doing any active linkbuilding.  I’ve deliberately chosen such uncompetitive niches that I am already ranking for buying keywords without any additional links other than the ones that already came with the expired domain.

I'm getting some social love from my visitors. It's not much, but it's still more than I expected since these are niche sites.

My AddThis social sharing data.  I’m getting some social love from my visitors. It’s not much, but it’s still more than I expected since these are niche sites.

So besides writing keyword rich content what else am I doing to get people to these sites?

  • Pinterest: Simple images with text.  Use a catchy headline and description.
  • Twitter: Promoting my own blog posts at a 1:10 ratio of self-promo to niche relevant tweets.
  • Tumblr: Pretty pictures, motivation, humor, memes, and fandom stuff works well on tumblr.  You can blog and reblog your own content.  Just don’t be spammy about it.

Traffic and performance for August 2014

Niche Site G

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Month 1 traffic report for Site G.

Month 1 traffic report for Site G.

Unless one of my other sites surprises me in a good way site G will be my main priority from this point forward.  Here are the vital stats.

  • 24% click through rate (per visitor) from the site to Amazon.  A CTR over 10%-15% is highly unusual for a niche site.  At first I thought the data was incorrect and clicky was acting up.  So I went into my Amazon and CJ accounts and compared the number of clicks.  The number of clicks is correct and I really am getting a 24% CTR on this site.  Holy smokes this party’s about to go off like a frog in a sock!
  • The Amazon tracking-id shows a 5.6% conversion rate.

Niche Site B

Month 1 traffic report for Niche Site B.

Month 1 traffic report for Niche Site B.

  • A 14.9% click through rate is average for this type of niche site.  I would say that it’s even higher than I expected since I know next to nothing about this niche compared to niche G.
  • Amazon shows a conversion rate of 2.2%.  This is low and below average for the traffic I send to Amazon.  Either this is a crappy niche full of non-buyers or there’s a mismatch between the traffic/content/products.

Niche Site A

I put up some content on this site recently in the last week of August.  Looking forward to seeing how the site performs in the coming weeks.

What to do with international traffic?

By international I’m talking about the UK & Canada.

I noticed some visitors from the UK and Canada this week.  They only make up 5% of visitors and I honestly don’t expect more than one or two sales for the entire year. But I’m not gonna waste that traffic!

I’ve added amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk links to my posts with the icontrolwp Custom Content by Country plugin.  The free version will work just fine.  We’re not doing anything complicated here.  These amazon links will only appear for Canadian and UK visitors.  American visitors won’t even notice anything’s been added.

Let’s talk $$$.  How much did the niche sites earn as of week 4?

Amazon’s tracking system had a meltdown last week and everybody’s earnings data were set to 0.  I’ve delayed posting earnings until they’ve fixed their system.

Total earnings for August 2014 per niche site

Niche Site G

Site G's CJ earnings for August 2014

Site G’s CJ earnings for August 2014

August 2014 Amazon earnings for niche site G

August 2014 Amazon earnings for niche site G

Amazon: $340.53

CJ: £91.27 ($151.60)

Niche Site B

I did get 2 more sales at the end of the month, but the items were not shipped in time to count the earnings towards this month’s results.

Amazon: $1.78 (same as last week)

Is this niche dead?

Not necessarily.

The numbers are still too low to draw any conclusions. Either the people in this niche are not buyers. Or I’m not getting the right type of traffic. Or my content sucks.

  • Difficult niche full of non-buyers. I expect a 4%-6% conversion rate on Amazon when it’s not the holiday season.  Amazon’s tracking-id report shows 178 clicks and 4 sales. This comes out to a 2.2% conversion rate. 🙁  Though it’s disappointing there still aren’t enough data points to put any significance on this result.
  • I’m getting the wrong kind of traffic full of browsers and window-shoppers.  I always target searchers who are looking for product reviews and comparisons as these are the easiest visitors to convert into buyers.  Even with the low traffic numbers and limited search data I can see that I’m ranking for some review type keywords.
  • My content sucks.  Compared to Site G’s topic I really have no idea wtf I’m talking about in this niche.  I’m sure this shows in the content.  From my clicky data I can see that the CTR from site B to Amazon is about 14.9%.  14.9% is decent and standard for niche sites.  But at the same time it is still half of site G’s CTR!  Maybe my expectations are a bit skewed by the success of site G.

Of course all these factors interact and it’s impossible to say that X definitely caused Y and Z.  This is just a simple analysis of why site B might be under-performing.

I would like to get at least 2000 visitors a month before I call site B a dud.  The experiment will continue.  I’m going to develop this site to see if things improve.   In particular, I’m going to fix the content to be more inline with the layout/flow of site G’s content.  That being said this site won’t be my top priority.

Niche Site A

Amazon: $0

Total earnings to date for all niche sites

August 2014 – $493.91

Always capture emails.  Always.

There’s not a lot of content on the sites and I haven’t created any downloads or incentives to offer in exchange for emails.  Even so, I’ve already gathered 5 subscribers for my updates list and 2 subscribers for my coupons list.

Start building an email list as soon as you launch.  Even if you only have a single page up.

The only two forms/lists on these sites right now are opt-in boxes for

  • General blog updates
  • Coupons and deals alerts – I have them fill out a detailed form to self-segment emails by interests and products.

Next steps

Niche Site G is an amazing success!  I will devote 80% of my attention and resources to this niche.

The next step will be to add more content to the site and expand by covering this topic on some of my other sites that are related to this niche.  My mind is just reeling with the possibilities of how I can dominate this niche.  I’m going to tell you right now that there are no dedicated affiliate sites in the serps for this niche right now.  That’s right.  A niche with $200-$4000 products with hundreds of reviews on Amazon and there are no niche sites other than my own.  Sometimes it really does pay to step out of the MMO guberu circle jerk.

There is easy money in this untapped niche and I WANT IT ALL.

The easiest way to make money online with niche sites is to have multiple sites in similar niches.  Lots and lots of sites.

Since I already have a network of established sites I can rapidly expand in this niche and cross post any successful content I discover without starting from scratch with a new site.

I’m also going to start sending some links to site G from my expired domains.  It won’t be anything too radical. One link a week to the top converting pages will be enough.  I don’t want to nuke the site and trigger some sort of penalty with my enthusiasm.

Sites B & A will also require more content and traffic.

So basically content and promotion. 

Like I said in the end of my Goals for 2014 post.  Create. Ship. Promote. Rinse lather repeat.

Key takeaway points

  • All you really need to make money online is targeted traffic, something to sell, and stubbornness.  SEO, content marketing, email, whatever.  Don’t get too hung up on the details.  Experiment and keep on doing what works. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
  • Know your markets and your niches. Aka the difference between Site G and Site B.  You still want to keep keywords in mind with the goal of attracting search traffic but never forget that you’re writing for people, not algorithms.  With adsense sites we want the visitors to click on the ads and leave ASAP.  In this case however we want them to trust us and our “expertise” so they’ll buy the stuff we flog to them.
  • There are no big secrets or magical plugins.  Some tools may speed things up and of course there are better/worse ways of doing things. But really, it all comes down to producing and shipping.  Just put something up.  Anything is better than nothing even if it only makes you $15 a year.
  • Go start a niche site today. If a slacker like me can make money with niche sites in one month, so can you.  GO DO IT RIGHT NOW. Sales are going to pick up as we get closer to Xmas. It’s going to rain $$$$ in a couple of weeks.

Summary

So 2000 words later and the tl;dr version is that niche sites still work but you’ve gotta know your market and step up your game.  Stop listening to what the gurus say. Test and gather your own data. Most importantly you have to act on that data.  Pivot and change course when necessary.

From now on I’m gonna add this table to the last progress report of each month.

As you can see by the empty table, there’s still a lot to be done in the coming months.

  The Niche Sites
ABCDEFGHI
Month 1
(8/2014)
Pages21200002700
Visitors47605265112178 1860936
Earnings
(USD)
$0$1.78$0$0$0$0$492.13$0$0
Month 2
(9/2014)
Pages21210002820
Visitors1208552514271335362312322
Earnings
(USD)
$0$22.91$0$0$0$0$1107.52$0$0
Month 3
(10/2014)
Pages21531302930
Visitors3563633982497334525918
Earnings$12.59$97.27$0$0$0$0$2122.36$0$0
Month 4
(11/2014)
PagesSOLD
VisitorsSOLD
EarningsSOLD
Month 5
(12/2014)
Pages--
Visitors--
Earnings--
TOTALPages21531302930
Earnings
(USD)
$12.59$121.96$0$0$0$0$3722.01$0$0

With total earnings this month of $493.91 I am 9.88% closer to my goal of increasing my income by $5000 every month from niche sites.

9.88%

Questions? Comments?  Are any of you building niche sites too?  Leave a comment!

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2 comments on “Make Money With Niche Sites – Progress Report #4 (Week 4)
  1. Sharon says:

    Wow amazing – I love how you have been able to make this money so quickly.

    I don’t ever want to use ManicTime. I think I would hate the result lol.

    • A. says:

      Sharon,

      Thanks for commenting! I feel like I should insert a * at the end of the post with a *(results not typical) footnote. I’ve already been doing this for several years and it’s amazing how the bits and pieces you pick up as you experiment with different methods all come together into a process that just works. Most importantly you develop an intuition that just lets you know which niches are golden opportunities and which are duds. My first year making niche sites was not quite as exciting as this!

      Yeah my ManicTime results were a rude awakening. I’ve put myself on an internet detox this week as a result. It seems crazy but I feel like I’m experiencing some withdrawal symptoms. o_0

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