I love hearing about the success of others; and I hope that you do too. Today, I have another awesome success story that I would like to share with you.
As you know, I have been recently publishing the success stories of others building niche sites or other online properties. You can read all the success stories here.
And if you have your own success story that you would like to submit, please go here and follow the guidelines.
Today, Charlie Duncombe shares some of the early success that he is having with his niche eCommerce site. He’s in an interesting market, selling “light leak” overlay effects to editors and videographers.
And of course, one of the things I love most about this story is how SEO has played a big role! This is a business that is working right now (August 2013) and so the examples are very relevant.
With that, I’ll let Charlie take it from here…
Charlie’s Success Story
1. What is your name and current job/profession?
My name’s Charlie. I’m 27, living in sunny Sydney, Australia. I currently
work in the Australian TV industry.
2. How did you get started building niche websites? How long have you been
When I was a kid (12-14 years old) I was right into Dreamweaver, html,
flash and all things web development. My first ever website was a mac
fanboy site (I outgrew that when my latest iMac blew up..), and I moved on
to creating a couple websites to share pics with mates of us skateboarding,
hanging out etc (this is long before Myspace/facebook!).
As with a lot of teen hobbies, as soon as I noticed girls all of this kinda
stopped – html isn’t exactly the language of love! Now I only retain a
basic knowledge of html, but the great thing is that nowadays (with
platforms like WordPress and Shopify) you don’t need that in depth
knowledge that could have been a barrier to entry in the past.
It’s only within the last 6 months that I have really been looking into
making an income online, and although I haven’t developed a niche site
yet, I have followed a lot of the same techniques shared in this blog to
rank my e-commerce site.
3. Tell us about one (preferred) or multiple of your successful websites.
What is the URL and what niche are you targeting?
My e-commerce niche site is http://lightleaklove.com.
LightLeakLove sells premium light leak overlay effects to editors and
videographers. These are video files that customers can add to their edits
to help achieve a certain look (see an example of the light leaks in action
here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfq25P9mnMo).
The niche I am targeting with this site is mainly small video editing
businesses with a small capital outlay – these customers are looking for
high quality products, but at an affordable and reasonable price.
4. How much money do you make from this successful website(s) each month?
The site has only been live since March 22. It’s been a soft launch, but as
of writing this it’s made over $745, with over $600 of that being in the
last 30 days. In the last 7 days it has made $242. This puts the sites
daily income at about $34 for the last week.
Expenses are around $80 a month. This includes Shopify and the Digital
product delivery system.
Screenshot of the last few days worth of sales.
It’s not much, but I see so much room for expansion. For example I’ve got a
new product in the works aimed squarely at wedding videographers (who have
turned out to be a large segment of the customer base). This will be our
first real ‘product launch’ and we are really excited to use techniques
shared here and smartpassiveincome.com to make that a profitable launch.
I still work full time (45 hrs plus) so currently I’m putting about 10
hours a week into this site.
I have to be very strategic how I spend that time (though I find myself
checking my analytics waaay too much).
5. What is the reason for this website’s success?
SEO, SEO, SEO.
When we first launched the website I ran several google Adwords campaigns
where I spent over $450 in 2 months and made 9 sales (about $99). It wasn’t
working – I was getting lots of traffic, but not the right traffic. My
conversion rate was low so I knew I had to work a harder at SEO as I
couldn’t rely on Adwords.
Using the techniques that Spencer has outlined on Niche Pursuits, I’ve
managed to solidify strong Google rankings and now have a steady stream of
visitors to the site, all organic. Organic search engine traffic now makes
up over 50% of all of the sites total traffic.
The last 30 days of traffic.
6. Please briefly share your overall strategy for finding a niche, getting
traffic to your site, ranking in Google, and making money from niche sites.
I have been creating overlay effects for use in editing software since
university. I created them primarily for myself/classmates/colleagues to
use. I got a lot of value out of them, and when searching for a viable
product to sell I looked at what talents I already had. I realized that if
I was finding value in these effects, others might too.
While the niche keyword numbers from Google Adwords weren’t mind blowing,
they weren’t bad either. The keyword numbers were there and 1st page Google
competition was fair. For example, the keyword “Light leaks” top ten in
Google consisted of two PR 4’s, a 3, a 2 and 4 n/a’s.
I knew that I could create a quality product with next to no overhead (as
it is digitally sold), and if I could find an audience through Google it
had the potential to be a successful earner.
Related keywords and exact match results
Note – As I am selling my own product I didn’t need to focus on CPC.
The primary keyword I chose to target was “light leak effect” as it had the
least 1st page competition.
Secondary Keywords targeted were lomo light leaks, light leak downloads,
light leak video.
It’s worth noting that I now get over 50% of my traffic from the broader
terms “light leaks” and “light leak”, capturing those higher monthly
My SEO strategy:
If I had to narrow down my SEO strategy to three words, it would be to
“provide useful content”.
In each of my SEO Strategies listed below, I’ve
made it a primary focus to provide my target market with valuable content
they could use. I define content as user guides, constructive blog
comments, free samples, examples of how to use light leaks, etc.
This has not only helped in my Google rankings, but has allowed customers to develop
a trust in LightLeakLove that I am finding invaluable.
In detail, this SEO strategy consisted of:
* Commenting on blogs.
I’ve probably only commented on 15 blog posts, and I didn’t really worry
about DoFollow links – I just wanted to ensure the comments added value and
were relevant to my target market. To encourage traffic I created a free
sampler for download and would link to this if the conversation warranted.
Everybody likes free stuff!
* Commenting on forums.
This has proved very successful, I get a lot of referrals from my forum
posts. Once again, I made sure to only comment in forum threads where I
could add value. Here’s an example of a forum thread I get referrals from
every day –
* Writing articles.
I wrote a series of 1000+ word articles for the site, making sure once
again they added value to the user experience, while also helping to put
customers at ease with using my product. I made sure they featured my
primary and secondary keywords.
I am now looking to ramp up the number of articles LightLeakLove publishes
in future, publishing at least 2 articles a week going forward (well that’s
the plan anyway!).
This will most likely be outsourced, as this will allow
me to spend more time developing and managing the business from a product
and SEO point of view. These articles will need to be very high quality as
they are not just a tool to help with SEO, but to actually provide
meaningful and useful information to my customers. Each article is a
representation of the brand I’m creating, so I can’t afford to skimp here.
I have just had my first article written using iWriter and am happy with
the results, though if I want truly strong content I think I will have to
source a writer educated in my niche, as Spencer has done with his survival
The next series of articles will not only focus on my niche (light leaks)
but also the surrounding industry (video editing, wedding videos, short
films, DSLR shooting etc.).
* Other platforms including social media.
LightLeakLove is also present on Slideshare.
This slide has had nearly 4000 views. I’ll be turning some more of my
articles into slides to also share on Slideshare, which will allow me to
access a market on a different platform and increase my reach on the web.
I’m also about to launch the company Facebook page in the next couple
weeks. Facebook is a tricky platform to master for business (especially
with my 10 hours available a week) but I think there are opportunities for
likes and shares that I haven’t tapped into yet.
As the product we sell is primarily for videos and digital media, we need
to have a prominent presence on what is the worlds biggest video sharing
platform (and second largest search engine) – Youtube. LightLeakLove has 14
videos which are currently on Youtube. They consist of “how to’s”, samplers,
and product introductions.
I have been ensuring my Youtube SEO is up to scratch by:
– paying close attention to meta tags and keywords, making sure they align
with my primary and secondary keywords.
– adding closed caption files to videos with voiceover (helps google
determine relevancy through the keywords used in the closed caption file).
– posting my videos as a video responses to other popular videos in my
The LightLeakLove channel has now had over 6,500 views and is my top
referrer apart from Google search.
Youtube views growth Mar 22 – Aug 6
* I outsourced an SEO campaign
I followed Spencer’s lead and hired
LayeredLinks.com. I believe this was huge driver in getting
LightLeakLove.com onto the first page. They took about 2 weeks in total to
complete campaign which consisted of –
1. 12 Web 2.0’s with 3 Posts Each
2. 2 Doc Hosts With 3 Pdf”s
3. 3 Wiki”s With 3 Posts Each
4. 3 Articles
5. 100 Bookmarks
6. 2500 Blog Comments
7. 50 Articles
I was very impressed with the results to say the least.
All of these techniques combined have helped to bring my search volume to a
steady 300+ views (90+ uniques) a day. I rank well (top 5) for multiple
long tail keywords including: Light Leak, light leaks, free light leaks,
light leak video, light leak effects, light leak overlay and more.
Organic google search traffic Mar 22 to Aug 6
What didn’t work.
The two images below give you an indication of what didn’t work for me –
As stated before, I spent over $450 in 2 months and made 9 sales (about
Google Analytics visits/page views since launch
Shopify sales data since launch
You can see from the charts above that nearly all of the search volume I
was getting from Google Adwords was NOT converting into sales, whereas my
organic search volume definitely is.
You can also see that before my Adwords campaign I had little to no organic
traffic, whereas when I terminated Adwords I had a steady organic stream in
7. What link-building tips can you offer?
Forums were a real surprise for me. They’re a little harder to participate
in as you don’t want to come across scammy or open your brand up to be
bashed, but if you add real value to conversations then people will
naturally check your stuff out.
Another key tip is to pay attention to Youtube. Google owns it and looks
fondly upon it’s use, so make sure you utilise your most relevant keywords
8. How has the success from this website impacted your life?
Financially it hasn’t really – yet. It’s a small earner but I’m confident
this is only the beginning.
Where it has really impacted me is showing that money can be made online,
and that with all of the skills I have learnt over the last 6 months it
truly IS possible.
It’s also taught me patience and to stay positive,
proving to me that all the little baby steps do add up over time. The
consistent growth I’ve seen from LightLeakLove with regards to traffic, SEO
and sales is a big motivator for me to continue to strive forward, and any
setbacks have been welcomed lessons.
9. Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to
replicate your success with their own websites?
First and foremost: Always have value at the front of mind. Jon Haver put
it best in his success story , when he stated he asks himself a simple question:
“Does this add value to a human?”. Value equals longevity.
Secondly, don’t rule out e-commerce sites as a viable money earner. Adsense
isn’t the only avenue to online profits. If you have a product (that you
can stand behind) with enough markup and use Spencer’s techniques to rank,
you will make money.
10. Do you have a blog or other place that people can following along with
what you are doing?
For now I am working hard to solidify this site and keep delivering value
to my customers while improving the product line. Excitingly though, I have
decided on pursuing a niche Adsense/affiliate site too. I have a niche
keyword chosen and will be beginning work on my first niche Adsense site in
the near future – hopefully dodging all of the teething issues I went
through with LightLeakLove. That will be interesting!
If anyone has ANY questions and wants to get in touch, send me a line right here.
I am more than willing to answer any questions and
have a chat!
I love and appreciate the community formed here, it’s been a
great place to learn and has really inspired me to keep pushing forward,
even when I thought my site would not work and was so close to quitting
(like after my Adwords debacle).
Because of this I’m very happy and eager
to contribute to it. So get in touch!
First of all, I want to thank Charlie for sharing his techniques and what’s working for him right now! I love the fact that he has found something he is passionate about and is turning it into a business…mostly through SEO! Very cool.
As always, I want to keep the discussion going. So, please post any comments or questions below, and Charlie and I will do our best to respond. Thanks!
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