Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com Find Business Ideas, Niche Websites, and much more! Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:05:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1Things and Things and Things! Niche Pursuits no Niche Pursuits sample@email.com sample@email.com (Niche Pursuits) Sample Podcast about Sample Things Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com/wp-content/images/niche-pursuits-podcast-cover.jpghttp://www.nichepursuits.com Richland, WA What’s Up with the Authority Site? Combined Income Report for February and March!http://www.nichepursuits.com/whats-up-with-the-authority-site-combined-income-report-for-february-and-march/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/whats-up-with-the-authority-site-combined-income-report-for-february-and-march/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:05:53 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5238 Perrin and I have been working quite a bit lately on our Authority Site Project.  I’ve also been enjoying a lot of brownies and cookies lately…but that’s a different story. I don’t share the income from most of my business … Continued

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Perrin and I have been working quite a bit lately on our Authority Site Project.  I’ve also been enjoying a lot of brownies and cookies lately…but that’s a different story.

I don’t share the income from most of my business (you can see all that I’m involved with in my last post); however, the one area of my business that I have been sharing the income for is the authority project.

I missed posting the income report for February, so today’s report will include both February and March.

To be honest, I was hoping to show an increase in income, but that hasn’t happened.  We had a smashing success with our first book, and we had assumed that we would be able to achieve similar success with subsequent books, but that simply has not happened.

Today, I’m not only going to discuss the actual earnings of the site, but what we plan to do differently to turn around the downward trend in earnings.  I will also discuss my decision as to whether or not I will be revealing my site. (I asked for your opinion in my last post).

Let’s jump into it.

Income for February and March

I want to throw the numbers out here first thing, so that we can discuss things the rest of the post.

Here’s the overall stats and earnings of the site:

mar-report

Combined February and March Earnings: $1,854.68

This is both Kindle earnings and Adsense earnings for the months of February and March.

February Earnings: $899.08

March Earnings: $955.60

As you can see, we continue to sell nearly $1,000 worth of Kindle books on Amazon each month; however, this is much less than January and December.

I’m unhappy with the downward trend.

However, before I dive into reasons for the lower earnings and strategy, let’s take a look at a couple of screenshots.

First, here’s a screenshot of the Kindle sales for March, just in case you enjoy the visual stats that this represents:

march-kindle

Promotion on Amazon Brazil

The huge spike in sales that you see on March 5th was due to a promotion that Amazon Brazil did for our book.  The promotion was done at a $0.99 promotion, so most of the sales you see there are worth about $0.35 to us.

I was contacted by Amazon Brazil out of the blue (I didn’t do anything to get their attention) and they asked if I was okay if they highlighted our book at a discount.  Of course I said yes, and the above spike in sales was the result.  Pretty cool!

Here’s a look at the traffic stats to the site:

analytics-march

As you can see, the site averaged about 215 sessions per day for the month of March.  While this is a good start in traffic, you can see from previous months (in the chart above) that the traffic has not increased significantly since December.

What’s Going On? Negative Reviews…

While I’m happy that the site is earning real money, I expect so much more from the site.  I don’t think I’ll be satisfied unless we can get the site to $10,000 per month in revenue.  That’s the goal.

Here’s a quick recap on the site and why it hasn’t been steadily increasing in traffic and earnings like I had hoped.

First, we did a stellar job with our first book and it was earning $100 a day for a while there.  However, we hired a different author for our next 2 books, and they flopped.

Part of the reason for the flop was poor topic choice, but the bigger reason I believe was the lower quality of the books.  These 2 books were slammed with a few negative reviews early on, and that just killed the sales.  Once you get some negative reviews on your books, it’s hard to overcome them.

Unfortunately, our first book, (that I feel IS high quality), was also hit with a couple of negative reviews.  These negative reviews also took that book from a bestseller, to a not so hot seller.  I believe that the 2 negative reviews on this book are “fake” reviews.

They don’t really address concerns in the book, and at least one of them was written by someone that only reviewed our book.  You can never know 100% which reviews are fake or not, but there were certainly a few signs that the negative reviews on our first book were not “real” reviews.

The negative reviews on books 2 and 3 were real, and unfortunately were probably deserved.

As a result, we went back to Perrin writing book 4, and I’m happy to say that the quality is excellent again!  Book 4 has received nothing but positive reviews and I still believe it has a chance to sell well.

Book 4 is currently selling just okay, mostly because the timing of our launch strategy didn’t quite work as well as before.  We just didn’t get our book listed on some promotional sites in time and other timing factors just caused it to have an average launch.

However, we will be trying a few things in the next couple of weeks and hope that will jumpstart more sales for Book 4.

In addition, Book 5 is nearly completed and gives us another opportunity to bring in more sales.

Overall, we are still learning as we go with writing Kindle books, but I think we are getting closer to finding a “formula” that works for us more consistently.

Email Subscribers and Google Traffic

In the meantime, we are still building an audience and getting more and more email subscribers to our list.  All of our books have opt in forms, and of course our website itself is helping to build the email list everyday.

We currently have about 625 subscribers on our email list, and I think we may come close to doubling that in April.  We made some tweaks to the opt-in forms on our website to give more opportunities for people to opt-in, and the early results are very promising.

We’ve been using Thrive Leads to make this process easier for us.  Thrive has built-in A/B testing, AND has just about every possible type of lead form you can think of: pop-ups, exit pops, widgets, headline bars, content upgrades, slide-ups, and more.

I know.  We should have done more to increase our opt-ins sooner; however, I really think things are moving in the right direction now.

Google News…

Another big reason that we haven’t seen a higher increase in traffic is due to the fact that we focused so much on Google News traffic for the past few months.  We saw some early spikes in traffic with a couple of our Google News articles, and we thought we could replicate that on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, the Google News traffic has not really panned out for us.  We tried writing more daily articles.  We tried different topics.  We tried keyword focused articles for news pieces.  We tried both longer and shorter articles.  However, we could just never get consistent traffic from Google News.

Here’s a look at the traffic from Google news over the past 2 months:

googlenews

As a result, I’ve made the decision to focus more on what I know and what is still bringing in more of the traffic to our site: Organic Traffic from Google.

Again, I know.  We should have just stayed with what we knew all along…but the “shiny object” of Google News traffic got us started down a path that just hasn’t panned out as well as we’d hoped.

We’ve done some additional keyword research and now have a better content plan moving forward.  The process is long, but over the next couple of months we should start seeing more search engine traffic as our new articles get picked up.

The Decision. Reveal the Site?

Like Lebron James, I have a decision to make.  Unfortunately, nobody in Miami (or Cleveland) wants my basketball talents…and nobody from ESPN wants to interview me about this decision.  However, I DO have a decision to make regarding my authority site.

Last week, I posed the question; “Should I reveal the URL of my Authority Site?”  I got lots of responses in the comments section.

Many of you had good reasons for why I should reveal the site; and many of you had good reasons why I should NOT reveal the site.

The primary reason given for revealing the site would be to give people an example that they could see, visit, and try to glean strategies from for their own site.  I see alot of value in having a live example of a site that is working.

The primary reason given for NOT revealing the site was that it takes away from the true case study value of the project.  If I reveal the site, readers from NichePursuits.com will visit the site, link to the site, and probably even buy the books.  The waters become muddied as to whether the success of the site was “natural” or whether it was really just due to the fact that I have a popular blog.

After reading all your comments and doing lots of thinking…I’ve come to my decision!

I will NOT be revealing the URL to my authority site.

I want the site to do well on it’s own…without the influence of NichePursuits.com.  Not only will this prove that a site can be built from scratch; but will hopefully inspire those without any influence or following that they can do the same.

So, for the now, the site will remain hidden and I will continue to share these updates without revealing the URL.  IF the site reaches the goal of $10,000 per month in earnings, I will take a second look at that decision. (If Lebron can go back on his decision, then so can I).

If I can build the site to that size, I think it might be valuable at that point to talk about it openly.  I’m not saying I WILL do this, I’m just saying I will consider that as an option once we get to that earnings level.

Quality Books

In addition to some of the changes to our site mentioned previously, we will also be focusing more on producing quality books.  The best way to avoid negative reviews is to simply make sure there is no reason your book should be getting those negative reviews.

Sometimes it’s unavoidable (if a competitor decides to buy negative reviews); however, for the most part, you control your own fate with reviews.

I think 2 out of our current 4 books are sufficient quality.  However, any new books we do will be even more in-depth, longer, and I’ll be more liberal with the editing hammer.  The only way to get top notch results is to produce top notch books.

Finally, since our list is finally starting to grow a bit, we will be gathering a “street team” of reviewers that will be happy to download and review our books as they come out.  These initial reviews will help propel the sales on Amazon.

Your Thoughts

Overall, we have been putting quite a bit of effort into our authority site and kindle books.  This post doesn’t really do justice to everything that goes on behind the scenes.  However, this gives you a quick look at how the site is coming along and what our plans are for the future.

I’m disappointed that the site isn’t earning more.  However, it IS earning close to $1,000 per month and that’s a decent start.  We are definitely not profitable yet, but I believe the potential is there if we simply keep plugging away and continuously improve.

Whether or not you like my decision to keep the site private, I hope you will continue to follow along as there are plenty of lessons to be learned here.  I’ll continue to teach what I learn along the way and hopefully some of my tips can help your own sites succeed.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Are you happy that I’m keeping the site private?  Do you have any questions about something I discussed?  Or perhaps you have questions about something I didn’t discuss.  Either way, let me know in the comments section below.

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Online Business Update: Kindle Publishing, Amazon Physical Products, and Morehttp://www.nichepursuits.com/online-business-update/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/online-business-update/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:23:50 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5221 Today will be a simple update post.  I don’t have epic strategies to share or any mind-blowing stats to review. However, I hope you will still find value in seeing what I’m involved with in my business and my plans … Continued

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Today will be a simple update post.  I don’t have epic strategies to share or any mind-blowing stats to review.

However, I hope you will still find value in seeing what I’m involved with in my business and my plans to grow.

Last week I wrote about overcoming shiny object syndrome, and this post will just once again prove why I said I’m not the perfect example!

However, I have focused enough to complete lots of projects and I do work full-time from home with a few employees (all virtual)…so if any of that is appealing to you, I do have a few things to share.

Today, I just want to give a quick rundown of all the current projects that I’m working on and give a quick update.  I would also love some feedback from you, so look for my questions.  In particular, I’d like to know which project you are interested in hearing MORE about.

Small Niche Sites

My online “career” began with building small niche sites, so I feel like it’s appropriate that I cover these first.

I still have lots of niche sites, but most of them are completely on auto-pilot.  I simply check earnings and monitor traffic.  I do have one or two that get new content every once in a while.  However, for the most part, I’m no longer focused on this part of my business.

I’m focused on building out larger web properties, rather than “set it and forget it” sites.  These “authority” sites get more of my attention and are discussed below.

Kindle Authority Site

This authority project has it’s own page and list of blog posts.  Perrin and I started this site towards the end of last year, and are actively working on growing the site.

We’ve now launched 4 books on Kindle, with varying degrees of success.  Our first book was an absolute home run.  You can see the earnings report from this first book right here.

However, we then hired an author to do books 2 and 3 for us, and they didn’t perform as well.  You can see the dip in earnings in the last income report right here.

We just launched book 4, and it’s doing a little bit better…but we have a few more promotion ideas to try before we know it’s full potential.

The site itself continues to grow in terms of traffic and email subscribers.  I’ll admit that it’s slow going when you are starting from absolute zero (I’ve never revealed the URL or Kindle books publicly on my blog here).  However, the site regularly gets 250 to 300 unique visitors a day and we have 600 email subscribers or so.

I hope to see both those numbers increase more rapidly in time.

Should I Reveal?

This brings me to my first question that I’d like your input on.  Up until now, I’ve kept everything private.  I’ve NOT revealed the site for 2 reasons:

  1. Improves case study value.  Showing that I can build an authority site from “scratch”, is a great study to show that others can do the same without leveraging any sort of influence.
  2. I want to prevent copy-cats or negative impact from readers with bad intentions.  When I revealed my site from my first niche site project, there were lots of copy cats and the site was damaged from negative SEO.

Despite the above risks, I’m still considering revealing the Kindle Authority site.  I’m considering REVEALING the site for these 3 reasons:

  1. Our Kindle books already get copy cats and fake negative reviews.  Even without publicly sharing our books or site on my blog, our top selling book has already been copied and a couple of reviews that were clearly fake…and very negative…were left.  Unfortunately, business is cut-throat and people that see your successful books will copy them and do anything else to make them drop in Amazon.  So, my reason number 2 above is already happening.
  2. Is the case study “value” less or greater when you can actually see the site and books?  I know personally for me, it’s great to see Steve Scott’s books that I can use as a guideline.  I know that for me and others, there’s more value in actually seeing the live site or books so you can personally dissect what made them successful.
  3. I think I would be remiss if I didn’t simply come out and state that my books and authority site are more likely to be successful if I tell more people about them.  Yes, I’ll make more money (possibly) and that’s a good reason to consider revealing.  I’ve build the site from “scratch” to over $1,000 a month, how far do I have to take it before I can just tell you what it is?  Pat Flynn has always been very public about his projects, and that’s worked pretty well.  I can see value in both options.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  Should I reveal the site?  Will you get more or less value our of the “case study” if it’s public?

Private Authority Site

I actually have a site that I’ve never talked about on my blog.  I started this site over 2 years ago, and it’s a “passion” blog for me.  I go in spurts where I update it more frequently and sometimes long spurts where I don’t update it at all.

The site get’s between 600 to 1000 uniques a day, and does okay with Adsense.  However, I’m currently in the process of having a Kindle book written for this market, and I see TONS of potential.

I don’t plan on revealing this site, but just wanted to mention it because it IS a site I work on and is a market that I enjoy.

Vylo

Vylo is a web-based chat software product that Perrin and I created a little while ago.  You can read the couple of updates we’ve given in the past here.

We honestly are just letting this one grow organically.  The site has actually grown on it’s own over the past year, but I wouldn’t call it a success at this point.  Here’s a recent traffic screenshot:

2015-03-25_1144

So, the site gets a fair amount of daily traffic.  But what’s even cooler is that the site ranks well for several “voice chat” related keywords in Google and gets a decent amount of organic traffic each day.

Here’s a screenshot of the organic traffic that the site gets:

2015-03-25_1147

We do have paying monthly subscribers, but not nearly enough to get excited about. I plan on tweaking a few things to see if we can get more people to become paying customers.

Amazon Physical Products

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in passing somewhere, but I’ve been working with a manufacturer in China to have a physical product created!  In fact over the weekend, my product was shipped from China to Las Angeles, and is on its way to an Amazon warehouse as I type this.

I expect my listing to be live on Amazon in the next few days!  I have no idea what to expect with this, but after seeing what Chris Guthrie has done in a short period of time, I know there is a lot of potential.

I didn’t take any training course on how to do this, I just jumped in and “pulled the trigger”.  I might be doing everything wrong, but I’m learning along the way.  I’ll let you know if the product sells. :)

I’ve heard so many good things about this business, that I’m getting involved with a couple of other people as well.  I have a partnership of sorts with my own brother to get a product up on Amazon.  I have another partnership with my employee Jake to do a separate product.  Jake’s product is currently being manufactured in China.

I’ve been wanting to wait until I actually see some success here before I discuss it too much.

Long Tail Pro

Long Tail Pro continues to be a phenomenal business.  I don’t like to share numbers, but I will just say that Long Tail Pro has the most employees.  (Jake is full-time at marketing, I have 3 contract developers, and 2 customer support reps).

The business is now hitting revenue numbers that I never dreamed would be possible.  Long Tail Pro is a business I’ve been working on and growing for about 4 years now, and much of the growth is very organic at this point.

People that don’t know me are becoming affiliates, using the software, or just mentioning in blog posts.  The software has been mentioned in Moz.com, SearchEngineJournal.com, SocialMediaExaminer.com, DuctTapeMarketing.com, and many other places without my involvement or even knowledge until after the fact.

In addition, Jake has really done a fantastic job helping to promote the business over the past few months.  He’s been actively blogging on the Long Tail Pro blog.  I encourage you to go check out some of his recent blog posts right here!

We have also been working on our funnel, both pre and post purchase.  As a result, the month of March should see a nice uptick of over 20% in sales without any special promotions or offers.  I’m hoping the business has reached a new “normal” level of sales that we can just continue to build from.

If you are interested in hearing more about this software business, let me know.

Niche Pursuits and Podcast

I’ll be honest, after 4 years of blogging, sometimes I struggle with “what should I write about next?”  However, I always come back to the fact that it’s just my blog and I can blog about whatever happens to be on my mind.

Some of my content will be “epic” (hopefully), and some of it will just be a regular update.

I keep at it, because I regularly receive feedback, emails, tweets, and more about how much people learn from some of the posts I shared.  I appreciate the feedback!

Podcast

In addition, you may have noticed that I’ve been taking a little bit of a break from the Niche Pursuits Podcast.  Surprisingly, some of you HAVE noticed and keep mentioning that I should record another episode.

I may just do that…sometime.  As you can see, I have a few other things going on in my business, and I’ve yet to see how the podcast impacts my business.  I’ve tried to analyze that in-depth here in a recent post.  Unlike other activities, such as improving my funnel/offers for Long Tail Pro which show a direct and immediate impact to my business, the podcast is a very soft metric.

I know the podcast can extend my reach and provides a deeper connection with my audience; however, it just doesn’t impact my revenue in a timely manner as much as other activities.

I will record more podcasts, I just don’t know when.

If you have topics that you would specifically like me to cover in the podcast, let me know.  I’m all ears.

Wrapping Up

Overall, I just wanted to give a brief update on the various online businesses that I’ve ventured into.  Business is good.

I would love to hear your feedback on which projects you would like to hear more about.  I can blog a bit more or record more podcasts episodes wherever there is the most interest.

In addition, I would really like to hear whether you think I should reveal my authority site or not.  I gave you some of my thoughts on the pros and cons below, now I’d love to hear from you.  What do you think?

If you have any additional comments or questions, let me know!

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How to Stay Focused and Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome?http://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-stay-focused-and-avoid-shiny-object-syndrome/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-stay-focused-and-avoid-shiny-object-syndrome/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:28:36 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5210 I have some bad news.  I don’t have a magic formula to always keep you focused. However, what I can share is my own struggles and small triumphs that have allowed me to stay focused long enough to build a … Continued

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I have some bad news.  I don’t have a magic formula to always keep you focused.

However, what I can share is my own struggles and small triumphs that have allowed me to stay focused long enough to build a very successful business.

I recently completed a survey where over 300 of you responded with your biggest obstacles to starting a profitable blog or website.  One of the top reasons that people struggle is to a lack of focus, or shiny object syndrome.

Unfortunately, I’m not perfect either.

Even with a successful business, it’s very difficult for me to focus on just one business venture at a time.  However, I have been able to focus ENOUGH on my projects that they’ve taken off.

So, today I’m going to share some of my own ups and down with pursuing “shiny” objects…and hopefully some of the small lessons learned can help you as well.

The Problem

You know the problem.  You get REALLY excited about a new business venture or project.  You get started with all your enthusiasm…and then something happens.

Maybe you get frustrated with technical challenges.

Maybe you read a blog post about ANOTHER great idea.

Whatever it is, you suddenly stop the “old” idea and move onto the new SHINY idea!  This will be the one!

Unfortunately, it rarely is and you find yourself starting a new project every couple of months with rubble of half completed projects cluttering the path behind you.

I’ve been there too.

When I first got started online, I began with a financial blog.  I had expectations that it would become huge and I would become the next great Dave Ramsey.

However, after some point of not seeing any results and reading forums or other blogs, I decided that if I created an ebook, that would be the next best thing!

I completed the ebook (which I’ve never mentioned here before), and it flopped.  Rather than trying some real marketing, I got slapped with another shiny object…lead generation!

I built a lead gen site in the financial space and got bored with it.  Finally I discovered small niche sites back in 2008 or so…and this was a good fit for me!

I saw some early success with my first couple of niche sites, and then I finally learned to focus on this one strategy and it allowed me to quit my day job just a couple of years later.

In a sense building niche sites was a way for me to still go after lots of shiny objects (building a new niche site on random topics), but I was still focused on just one-strategy (ranking in Google quickly for long tail keywords).

While building these niche sites, I was of course tempted along the way to dive into other projects, but I focused for the most part and it paid off for me in a big way.  I went from making almost nothing in 2009 online, to making over $16,000 a month shortly after quitting my job in 2011.

My problem recently

I’ve made some good decisions in my business that played off my strengths of building niche sites.  That includes starting this blog and sticking with it for over 4 years now and creating Long Tail Pro; which has become a very successful software business in it’s own right.

So, I’m not a perfect example of avoiding additional projects…by a long shot.  I enjoy building new sites, I have a software company, and I run this blog.  However, in a strange way these are all related and I can handle most of it because I have my employees Perrin and Jake helping me out.

However, I’ve allowed myself to drift a bit too far after some shiny objects, even recently.  Let me explain.

I mentioned briefly in a blog post a few months ago, that I was going to rent an office in a coworking space locally.  In conjunction, I mentioned that I was becoming a partner in a software development company.

The company itself launched in September and we picked up several software development contracts.  However, I found that the original idea of the business continued to morph into something bigger and bigger that required more and more of my time.

I could see that I was starting down a road that would be hard to back-track from if I didn’t do something.  The shiny object of a local software development firm was taking me away from my core business that all of you are so familiar with.

As a result of some SERIOUS thinking, I decided to leave the company in order to allow me to focus my time on my core business.  It was a tough decision, but I was immediately relieved.

The software development company is actually doing well and has recently made some new hires, but I’m glad that the current owners can give it the time and attention it deserves, rather than me.

As crazy as it sounds, even when you hit your income and business goals, you might still be like me and try to pursue additional options.

The syndrome never goes away completely.


Shiny object syndrome is kinda like alcoholism, you are never really cured, just in remission.
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The Rewards

Again, I don’t have all the answers to cure your unfocused ways.  I will simply say that you are likely to do MUCH better in business if you focus on one thing at a time.  It’s not easy; I’ve been there…however, you really will do better to stop chasing your tail.

I have 3 successes from my business that have in part come because I was able to stick with it and focus enough to grow these revenue streams.

First is my niche site business that I mentioned.  When I finally took to the time to focus and pull all my effort into niche sites (for a few years straight), I was able to quit my day job because my business income had exceeded my day-job income. I continue to focus on building out sites, with Perrin and I putting a lot of effort into our authority site project and Kindle books right now.

Second is Long Tail Pro.  I launched Long Tail Pro right around the same time that I quit my job back in 2011.  I’ve been able to grow that software business each and every year, and that business is currently on pace to have another record year.  Again, this is something I’ve just “stuck” with for about 4 years now…it’s paying off immensely now.

Finally, is NichePursuits.com itself.  I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now…crazy!  If I had tried to chase every opportunity that came along, I probably would have not had time to blog.  While NichePursuits.com does not make me a significant amount of money directly, it has helped me build a large audience, generate large amounts of traffic naturally everyday, and provides a platform for anything I might want to do in the future.

4 Ways to Help Overcome Shiny Object Syndrome

I don’t have a magic wand or special words that I can say to change your shiny objects tendencies; however, here’s a few thoughts that might help you think differently about how you are operating.

  1. Set goals.  I’ve always been a big believer in goal setting as it really does help you focus your energies.  As you know, your goals should be specific and measurable.  And if you are having a hard time focusing, set goals that specifically mention the 1 or 2 projects that you are going to work on.
  2. Plan your day.  I don’t have any fancy time management or planning tools.  However, each morning I jot down with a pen and paper (old school!) the 5 or so things that I most want to accomplish for the day.  I number them in priority and work on number 1 until its finished before moving onto the next ones.  This helps more than you might think.
  3. Remove distractions.  For me this is email.  However, for you this may be reading other blogs or following social media.  I would set up specific times a day where you are “allowed” to check email or read blogs.  You will find that being a little more strict with your time will help you accomplish much more.
  4. Pick your own winning strategy.  In other words, don’t just follow the crowd.  Think of a business strategy that makes sense to you and pursue it.  I’ve said this many times before, but the best business to go into is the one that makes sense to you and hopefully you’ve developed with a unique angle. While it’s okay to glean business information from others, if you solely rely on a “blueprint” you will likely always be looking for the next blueprint to your success.

Unfortunately, doing all these things won’t guarantee your business success, but it will at least give the opportunity to focus long enough on one idea to see if it has legs or not.

Overall, hopefully some of these ideas will help you realize that it’s to focus a little more if you hope to succeed.  Also, I’m not perfect at this either!

I’ve shared some of my own ups and downs getting distracted with other projects, but I can point directly to where my business income has come from and see that it’s the projects that I’ve focused that have succeeded.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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29 Biggest Obstacles to Starting a Successful Blog or Websitehttp://www.nichepursuits.com/29-biggest-obstacles-to-starting-a-successful-blog-or-website/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/29-biggest-obstacles-to-starting-a-successful-blog-or-website/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 17:05:49 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5189 I recently revamped my email series.  You know, the autoresponder series that people get when they sign up to my email list. This new email series is an 11 part “mini-course” on how to build a profitable site from beginning … Continued

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I recently revamped my email series.  You know, the autoresponder series that people get when they sign up to my email list.

This new email series is an 11 part “mini-course” on how to build a profitable site from beginning to end.  Perrin was very instrumental in helping me get this series off the ground.  It’s not easy to write 20,000 words and divide it into bit-sized emails that people will find interesting.

As part of this “revamping” process, I tried something new.  I asked for people to respond to me directly.  That’s right, in the very first email I asked people about their biggest obstacles.

As a result, I got some VERY interesting responses.  Some were expected such as, “I’m having trouble ranking in Google”; while others were less expected such as, “I can’t convince my wife that this online business is viable thing”.

I also have to admit that I was TOTALLY overwhelmed by the sheer number of responses that I got…very quickly.  Within less than a week I had over 300 responses to that first email.  With everything else that I have going on in my business, I was not able to respond to all those emails (so I apologize if I didn’t respond to you!).

As a result, I’ve removed this “poll” from my email series because it quite frankly would take a ton of time to respond to everyone on an ongoing basis.  I guess it’s a good problem to have…too many email subscribers.

However, I think the findings I gathered from these 300+ email responses is not only highly valuable to me, but can also be highly valuable to you as you seek to get started building a niche site, blog, or other online business.

Because of this, I meticulously went through each email and documented what everyone’s biggest roadblocks were.  You can see all the data below in a nice chart (I know how you love pretty charts), along with some of my own insights on how people can either overcome some of the obstacles or at least my own opinion.

So, with that, let’s jump into the responses!

How the Poll Was Taken

Before I dive directly into the answers that people gave, I think its important to know the exact question so we can keep all of this in perspective.

Here is the exact text from one of my emails asking for people’s biggest obstacles:

Before we get started, could you help me with a poll I’m taking? I’m trying to figure out what people’s main stumbling blocks are in this business. So just shoot me a reply and tell me your biggest obstacle so far.

So, I asked them specifically about stumbling blocks “in this business.”  I think it’s important to point out how I framed this question, because the responses certainly would have been different based on how I ask the question and how I led up to the question.

Here’s some of the earlier text in my email to further clarify how the question was framed:

As a thank you, I want to give you a free gift: an 11-part mini-course that teaches you how to set up a profitable blog from scratch.

I also mention a couple of times in the email how I’m focusing on helping them build a successful site or blog.

I wanted to clarify some of this so that you can understand the responses better.  I was not just asking what people’s biggest obstacles are for any online business or how to start a home-based business or something like that.

The audience I’ve attracted has a very specific focus of how to build successful websites from scratch.  For that reason, the responses below are very much tailored towards people that are hoping to build a profitable website.

I should point out that I suspect that if other people had asked the EXACT same question, the responses would be slightly different because of their audience.  For example if Brian Dean from BackLinko.com had asked the question, his audience would have responded that Link Building or Outreach was their biggest problem.

If Cliff Ravenscraft from PodcastAnswerMan.com had asked the same question, his audience would have had more podcasting problems (my audience had none).

In other words, I’m simply saying that the responses of MY blog readers leaned one way simply because of the type of content I produce and how it has attracted them.

Hope that all made sense.

Biggest Obstacles

So, with that, here’s the biggest obstacles that people have when trying to start a profitable blog or website:

obstacles-poll

You can see that by far the most common problem that people have is finding the right niche and doing keyword research for their sites.  Close behind is content production problems and time/productivity obstacles.

Just in case anyone is curious to see the raw data, here it is:

data-obstaclespoll

Now that you have seen all the data, I want to provide my own thoughts on some of these obstacles that many of you are having.

Finding a Niche / Keyword Research

I’ve talked a lot about keyword research in the past, but apparently not enough!  The most common problem that people have when trying to start up a new website is finding the right keywords to target.

Because everyone answered in their own words, some framed the problem as finding a topic for a website, while others specifically have issues finding low competition keywords that they can rank easily for in Google.  In reality, these are all basically the same problem.

The issue is complex, I don’t have a quick fix because everyone might have a slightly different variation to this problem.

All I can say is that for me it’s been practice, practice, practice.  The more you do keyword research and put yourself out there, the more results you see and the more comfortable you get with the entire process.

For those having issues with this obstacle, here’s a few articles that I’ve written in the past:

I’ve written much more on keyword research, and you can find lots of it in this category here.

Writing Content

I was actually surprised to hear how many people were having issues creating content.  These people have found a niche or keyword, but either are unable to produce content themselves or just don’t know where to get content.

I do believe that content is king, and so this is a very valid concern to be thinking about with your new website.  It’s critical that you have valuable content for your readers.

I think people with this content production issue fall into 4 main categories:

  • They KNOW what topics to write about, but they are unsure of how to structure their articles or unsure of how to make it interesting.
  • They CAN write good content, but they don’t have time or are perhaps afraid to put their work out there.
  • They CAN’T write good content and don’t know where to hire people to get good content.
  • The know WHERE to hire content writers, but they don’t have the money to do so.

Again, I wish I had simple solutions to these problems.  At the end of the day, business involves risk.  Oftentimes this includes putting your own content out there for the world to see and investing your own time and money into your website.

Time / Productivity

This is a big one for a lot of people.  I also completely understand.  Like many of you out there, I also had a full-time job and often found myself completely exhausted after work or simply out of time at the end of the day.

For some of you it’s going to be a matter of really prioritizing your tasks and making sure you don’t have any wasted time in your day.

For others, you only think you don’t have any time in your day.  But when you look at how much you play video games or watch TV, you’ll realize that it’s your own fault that you never have time to work on your business.

Yep, that was kinda harsh…but it’s also kinda true for some of you. (You know who you are!).

For me personally, I found while I was working full-time and raising 3 children that the only time I had available to work on my business was from about 9pm to midnight.  I worked at my day job, came home and ate dinner with my family, and then got the kids to bed.

Then from 9pm to midnight was GO TIME!  I also eventually had to start utilizing outsourced workers to help build out sites and other tasks.  But all the hard work paid off big time for me.  After struggling with all of this for a few years, I was able to quit my job on March 11th, 2011 (4 years ago).

I’ve now been full-time in this business ever since and have plenty of time for some of the other things I sacrificed early on.

Again, I don’t have a simple answer for this obstacle other than to say: prioritize as much as possible, and get help/outsource if you can.

Learning How to Get Started / Information Overload

Some people also call this “analysis paralysis”.  Basically, with all the blogs out there, emails to read, and social media to follow; you can sit and “learn” about building a successful websites for YEARS!

I DO have a solution for this one.  Stop.  Just stop the analysis.

Take action and get started.

It really is as simple as that.

You will learn so much more from actually building your first website than you will have learned from reading all the blogs out there.  Pat Flynn actually wrote an article recently on information overload and how he deals with it.

My solution is always to just start taking action.  I did this recently because I’ve been interested in the Amazon FBA business after hearing about Chris Guthrie’s success.

I honestly didn’t have time to read a bunch of blog posts or listen to podcasts or buy products about how to start an Amazon FBA business.  So, instead I just contacted some manufactures in China (via Alibaba.com) about a product I wanted manufactured and got started.

I now expect to have a product up and selling on Amazon possibly by the end of this month (it’s currently under production).

I simply got started.  I’ve honestly read very little about how others run their Amazon FBA business; I’ll learn SO much more from listing and selling my first product than I could have learned in months of die-hard research.


Learning through experience is better than learning from reading blog posts.
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Staying on Track / Focus / Shiny Object Syndrome

How do you overcome shiny object syndrome?  This is a problem that lots of “new” people face because there are so many different options available for starting a business online.

This obstacle is also closely related to the “information overload” problem.  So, part of the solution is to just get started on something.

The other part of the solution is to actually set some goals and stick to those goals. If you find a business model that you want to pursue, WRITE IT DOWN!

Write down your goals and your plans and stick to it.  The best way to accomplish your goals is to tell others about your plans and possibly even form a group that can help you stay accountable to your plans.

Again, this one topic deserves it’s own blog post…or book; but the bottom line is that you need to realize that life is short and that if you keep trying things just a little bit and moving on, you will never accomplish anything great.

How to Get Traffic

I went to the Traffic and Conversion Summit last month and topic of traffic come up oddly enough!  Ryan Deiss of DigitalMarketer.com often stated that people do not have a traffic problem.  I did a quick search and he’s written an article about the fact that you don’t have a traffic problem.

Here’s what he said:

This might shock you but you DO NOT have a traffic problem.

You might have a business model problem, an offer problem or a measurement problem.

But you DO NOT have a traffic problem.

From his perspective, you should be able to BUY traffic (from Facebook, Google, or other places) and as long as you make more money from that traffic than you spent, there is no traffic problem.

I KNOW that we all want free traffic from Google and so it may not have crossed your mind that you can get thousands of visitors to your site tomorrow if you wanted by paying for the traffic.  However, you may not have a way to make enough money on the traffic.

I’m with you though, I’ve always been too stingy to just start spending money on traffic, so I’ve worked like crazy to figure out the “free” traffic solution.

The issue is that this “free” traffic takes time (often many months before you see much traction in Google).  The Google traffic problem usually comes down to targeting the right keywords (that are low competition enough) and producing quality content.

Link Building / Outreach

Getting links is not easy.  I agree that this can be a big stumbling block.  Unfortunately buying “link packages” and using link networks just doesn’t work like they did in the good old days.

So, if you are striving to achieve that wonderful free organic traffic, attracting links is usually a necessary evil.

I’ve covered this topic a few times in the past, including these interviews:

Other Issues

I could try and go through each of these one-by-one to give my opinion on the validity of these road blocks, but that would probably require a short novel.  I’ve covered the top 7 most common obstacles and you can see what the rest are for people trying to create a profitable blog.

I will just say that my favorite issue that someone had is, “convincing spouse”.  My advice is to buy her flowers, let her talk to you (and listen) for as long as she wants, and then snuggle while you let her watch her favorite romantic comedy.  Perhaps then you can bring up your online business ventures :).

Now What?

So, now that you’ve seen me list and discuss some of the biggest obstacles that people face when starting a successful website…where do we go from here?

The problems mentioned are much too in-depth and diverse for me to solve or even respond to effectively in one blog post.  I’ve simply provided some of my own commentary and pointed you to a few resources that might be able to help.

However, just so you know, I’m going to be using the responses to this poll as somewhat of a roadmap for my future blog posts.  Now that I know that people are having the most problems around keyword research and writing content, and a few others, I’ll be focusing my time and effort trying to help people overcome those obstacles.

Overall, this exercise has been extremely valuable to me in understanding the roadblocks of my audience.  I’ve heard from at least 300 of you directly, and knowing how statistics work, I’m certain that MANY more of you are having the exact same issues.

So, I’ll be sharing more of what I’ve learned from creating my own successful websites and blogs and hopefully we can all learn going forward.

I would love to hear any additional comments or questions that you might have.  Do you have any other major stumbling blocks that have not been mentioned already?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Authority Site and Kindle Books Income Report for January 2015http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-kindle-books-income-report-january-2015/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-kindle-books-income-report-january-2015/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 18:54:26 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5168 Another month has flown by, and it’s time for another income report.  I like to share these income reports because  it keep me accountable in my own business, but I also know that it can provide inspiration and openness to … Continued

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Another month has flown by, and it’s time for another income report.  I like to share these income reports because  it keep me accountable in my own business, but I also know that it can provide inspiration and openness to anyone looking to get involved in a similar business.

Perrin and I started our Authority site project several months ago; however, it’s only been since November that we even started monetizing the site.  You can see the first official income report from last month right here.

I also want to clarify that this income report is only for one website.  This income report does not include any of my other niche websites, my software business, or any other income sources I have.

I plan on being as open as possible with the income from this one project, whether or not things goes as planned or not.  However, the actual website and Kindle books associated with this site are going to be kept private.

So, with that little intro, let’s jump into some of the numbers!

Traffic and Earnings Report

In December we exceeded our expectations as far as number of books sold and earnings.  Despite launching a second book towards the end of January, our earnings were still lower for the month.

I’m not happy with the decline in earnings; however, that’s mostly due to the fact that we actually made so much more in December than expected.

Here’s a look at the total units sold and borrowed in January:

jankindle

As you can see, the number of units sold was trending down during the middle of the month.  However, we released a new book on January 19th, and that appears to have reversed the trend through the end of January.

Total Site Earnings for January: $1,462.46

The site earned a total of $1,462 in January.  That is still a decent number, but a big drop from December earnings.

Total Kindle Earnings: $1,315.53

Our first book finally started to drop in sales, and this is the cause of the large drop in revenue.  Our book was sitting at #1 best seller in a few different categories for about a month.  That is no longer the case.

The sales from our first book continued to decline through most of January.  When we launched our second book, we started to pull in more sales overall.  However, our second book has not performed nearly as well as the first book we launch.

I’ll dive into some of the reasons why our second book didn’t sell as well, and plans going forward below.

Adsense Earnings: $146.93

On the bright side of things, the traffic and earnings directly on our authority site did increase.  The adsense earnings for January were about double what it was in December…nice!

Here’s a quick look at the traffic from January (which was also a nice increase over December):

jansessions

During January, the site was averaging just over 240 sessions per day.  We are still “playing” around with Google news and SEO to find a strategy that is going to take us to the next level.  Getting 240 sessions a day is a good start, but we have a long way to go before I’m satisfied with the results.

I’ve decided to start keeping a nice spreadsheet with the stats from this site.  Below you will find the relevant statistics for December and January.

incomereport

This chart breaks down all the sales essentially since the inception of our Kindle books.  Technically we launched our first book in Nov. 2014; however, it was towards the end of the month so I just included it as a “new” book for December.  The revenue from that first book was very small for November because the book was free or 99 cents for a couple of days that month.

Check out the chart for all your stat viewing enjoyment!

Why Didn’t the Second Book Perform as Well?

When we launched our second book on January 19th, we felt like we could knock it out of the park.  And to be honest, during the free days, we got even MORE free downloads than our first book.

Our promotion strategies worked REALLY well, and we got tons of downloads.

Here’s a quick chart to see how it went:

book2promo

Our top day had 2,680 free downloads!  This pushed our book into the top 100 downloaded free books on the entire Kindle store.

So, when we switched the book to 99 cents on January 25th, we were really hoping that the sales trend would continue.  Unfortunately, those sales didn’t materialize like they did for our first book.

Here’s a look at the first few days of book #2:

book2-99

Don’t be deceived by the upward trend right at the end of the month.  This trend did not continue into February.

So, the book DID sell a few copies and got some borrows, so it’s not a complete flop.  But our first book was consistently doing 20 to 30 purchases at $2.99 for the first month.  This second book was barely selling at $0.99.

Why?

Well, Perrin and I have 2 theories as to why our second book did not go as well.

First, we got some negative reviews.

During our free period, we got lots of positive, 5 star reviews.  However, we also got a couple of negative reviews that I think really hurt us.  (See the big drop in downloads during our 2 last free days during our free period).

The negative reviews weren’t because the book was poor quality, but more because the topic we picked has very passionate people.  We were concerned going in that if we didn’t tread on some of the subjects just right, we could get some negative reviews.

Well, sure enough, we got some negative reviews.  I think our book still sits at an average rating of 4.1; however, the few negative reviews may have really hurt us out of the gate.

Secondly, we chose a more competitive category.

I think our category choice may have been too ambitious.  Our first book was very niche, and we dominated.

Our second book had a bigger potential audience, but the category is dominated by well-known authors and books.  We DID “niche” our book down a bit, but the general topic is fairly popular and looks like too competitive.

So, the competitive nature of the category and the fact that we got some negative reviews early on, looks like the reasons our second book didn’t perform as well as the first.

But never fear!  We just launched our 3rd book…and have another one in process of being written.  We are taking the catalog approach and hope to have 10 to 12 books in just a few short months.

I see this business as a long term play, and hopefully in 6 to 12 months from now we can look at all the hard work that we’ve put in and be reaping the benefits.

Some Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m still VERY happy with making close to $1,500 with a site that we really just started monetizing a couple of months ago.  We hit a big homerun with our first book and that may have put on the rose colored glasses for our second book.

I was expecting it to perform just as well, but alas, I have a few more lessons to learn here.

As far as the book writing process goes, Perrin and I have gotten a method down that works pretty well to brainstorm, outline, and produce great quality books.  So, I feel like the writing and promoting of Kindle books is just going to get easier with practice.

Unfortunately, writing and promoting books does not also equal revenue.  As we refine our process for actually picking categories, topics, or even keywords to target on Amazon, I think we can more consistently produce books that make sufficient sales.

In addition, we still haven’t quite hit on the perfect strategy for the content of our site.  I feel like we are getting closer, but this is likely to take a few months as well.

Part of the complexity of our site is that it’s a very big project.  We are targeting long tail keywords, and we understand this process very well.  However, we are new to the Google News game, and so this is the steep learning curve that may take some time to figure out.

We have some good days, lots of bad days, and a few just okay days.  We’ve been chatting with some colleagues about Google news, and we have a better plan now going forward.

I will certainly share the results as we see them.

Overall, our Authority site project is slowly moving forward.  As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you might have.  Feel free to drop a comment or two below.

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The Impact of My Blog Redesign on Engagement and Opt-Inshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/impact-blog-redesign-engagement-opt-ins/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/impact-blog-redesign-engagement-opt-ins/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 17:28:18 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5151 If you have been following NichePursuits.com for a while, you will know that just recently I went through a major redesign. In fact, when I started my blog back at the end of 2010 I simply found a theme for … Continued

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If you have been following NichePursuits.com for a while, you will know that just recently I went through a major redesign.

In fact, when I started my blog back at the end of 2010 I simply found a theme for about $37 that I liked, got a cheap logo and I was off and blogging.  I used that same blog design and logo for 4 years!

During those 4 years, my blog great tremendously and do I dare say I’ve had a small impact on my ever growing community?  So, the first lesson is that you do NOT need an expensive design to get started blogging.  People care more about the quality of your content then the quality of your logo…really.

However, I finally decided that it was time for a fresh look.  So, I hired Taylor Hendrickson of HendricksenDesign.com to tackle the task.  Taylor did an amazing job, and I definitely recommend him if you are looking to have your site designed.

Today, I want to review some of the stats related to my new blog design.  I’ll be diving into things like pages viewed, time on site, opt in rates, and more.

Hopefully some of this information will help you as you think about getting a fancy new design for your own site!

Before and After…

As mentioned, I used a very cheap WordPress theme and logo for 4 years on my site.  I actually think they looked pretty well…for something under $100.

I want to to share some before and after screenshots as well as the statistics.

NichePursuits.com Before Nov. 2014

2015-02-09_1307

and…

2015-02-09_1315

NichePursuits.com After Nov. 2014

2015-02-09_1320

and

2015-02-09_1310

For the overall look and feel of the site, I think it’s a huge jump forward in terms of design and feel!

The process of getting the logo figured out was actually probably the most difficult.  Once Taylor and I got that in place, everything else seemed to go without a hitch.

I have to admit that I attribute how smooth everything went to Taylor and his great eye for design AND understanding my goals.  He understands my market very well and was able to come up with design, opt-in copy, and more with very little input from me.

However, there is much more to a site than looking great; I want results.  So, let’s take a look at some of the stats to see how my website is performing now vs. the old design.

Avg. Session Duration: Increase of 23 seconds

Old site design: 2:51

New site design: 3:14

An increase of of 23 seconds per session is pretty significant.  This means that people are staying on the site longer and as we will see below, visiting more pages.

I have to suspect this is due to a more professional design that helps people feel like Niche Pursuits is a quality site.  My related posts and project pages have also been strategically designed to encourage people to stick around and read more content as well.

Pages / Session: Increase of 0.13 Pages

Old site design: 2.03 pages/session

New site design: 2.16 pages/session

Having people stick around longer and visit more pages is always a good thing to build trust and engagement. This metric is mostly driven by the quality of content.  The most interesting your blog posts, the more readers will want to stick around and see what else you have written.

However, as you can see a site redesign can also have a positive impact on this metric as well.  I’m definitely happy with the increase here.

Bounce Rate: Improvement of 1.01%

Old site design: 64.06%

New site design: 63.05 %

As you can see, there was only a slight improvement here…but it is an improvement nonetheless.  Since the content of my site has not changed, I have to attribute this improvement to the new site design.

Average Daily Opt-ins: Increase of 30.03 Email Opt-Ins

Old site design: 20.59 average daily opt-ins

New site design: 50.62 average daily opt-ins

Building an email list is SO important, so this is a metric that I care much more about than some of the previous ones mentioned.

This increase is HUGE!  In fact, I now get 2.5 times as many new email subscribers per day than I did before the site redesign.  That’s pretty amazing.

A big part of this was more than just a fancy new design.  I also finally got around to implementing some of the strategies that I knew I should have been using all along.  Call me lazy, but I finally got around to adding things like pop-ups, content upgrades, and more.

Perhaps you have seen my new splash page on my homepage.  This has helped:

2015-02-09_1314

In addition, I now have content upgrades within most of my blog posts (including all my old ones) that has significantly improved opt-in rates.

And then I’ve added timed pop-ups to improve the opt-in rate even further.  I’m sure I could be doing even more, but I’m quite happy with the significant increase in email subscribers that I’m now getting.

I should also mention that all of these splash pages, content upgrades, and pop-ups are all custom designed.  I’m not using any out of the box plugins or designs.  These we also customer programmed and design specially for my site by Taylor Hendricksen.

Email Opt-in Conversion Rate: Increase of 1.49%

Old site design: 0.77%

New site design: 2.26%

I know an increase of 1.49% doesn’t sound like much, but it really is in raw numbers.  That’s an increase of almost 300%!

I know that only 2.26% of people opting into my email list doesn’t sound that great, but I’m very happy with it.  You also have to realize that I get A LOT of returning visitors that are already on my email list anyway, so I’ll take it.

A Few Final Thoughts…

Overall, the statistics are speaking loud and clear to me, the new site design has been a HUGE success!  People are staying on my site longer, visiting more pages, and are more likely to opt-in to my email list.

Privately, people have also shared with me that they absolutely love the new design as well.  I was nervous going in to all the changes, but I’m quite pleased with the design and the results.

I do want to give another shout out to Taylor Hendricksen for the awesome design work he has done.  He had so many ideas and was able to implement the few ideas that I had without any issue.

In fact, I was so happy with the work that Taylor did, that I’ve had him redesign the look and feel of Long Tail Pro as well!  That’s right a new design of Long Tail Pro is coming out very soon.

The impact of my new blog design has been huge.  While I still think that people just starting out do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars with a fancy design, when you have the money to upgrade your site, it’s definitely worth it.

Bootstrap your way to an audience with a cheap WordPress theme, then give your site a facelift only once you know your business has some legs.

As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions that you have about designing a site or anything else related to this post.

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Podcast 58: Kindle and Authority Site Success; Earnings and Lessons Learned So Farhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-58-kindle-authority-site-success-earnings-lessons-learned-far/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-58-kindle-authority-site-success-earnings-lessons-learned-far/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:15:46 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5142 The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today’s show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site. Specifically we discuss how our new site … Continued

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The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today’s show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site.

Specifically we discuss how our new site and our Kindle books work together to build our brand and audience.  In addition, we review the income numbers shared in my last earnings update here.

During the podcast we dive a bit deeper into how we launched both our first and now second Kindle book.  The first 5 days of our second Kindle book were free days.  We seemed to have found a formula that works really well for these free days, because we got just as many downloads during these free days as our first book.

We did all of this without leveraging anyone else list.

You can see a few sites to promote on right here in my previous blog post.

Overall, we cover much more detail in the podcast itself, so I’ll hope you’ll give it a listen.

Thanks!

 

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-58-kindle-authority-site-success-earnings-lessons-learned-far/feed/ 19 The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today's show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site. - Specifically we discuss how our new site and our Kindle boo... The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today's show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site.Specifically we discuss how our new site and our Kindle books work together to build our brand and audience.  In addition, we review the income numbers shared in my last earnings update here.During the podcast we dive a bit deeper into how we launched both our first and now second Kindle book.  The first 5 days of our second Kindle book were free days.  We seemed to have found a formula that works really well for these free days, because we got just as many downloads during these free days as our first book.We did all of this without leveraging anyone else list.You can see a few sites to promote on right here in my previous blog post.Overall, we cover much more detail in the podcast itself, so I'll hope you'll give it a listen.Thanks!  Niche Pursuits no 46:40
9 Ways to Increase Amazon Affiliate Earningshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/9-ways-increase-amazon-affiliate-earnings/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/9-ways-increase-amazon-affiliate-earnings/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:55:05 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5126 During my online “career” I have built several sites monetized with Amazon Associates.  In fact, 2 of the largest case studies I’ve done on my site here (Niche Site Project 1 and Niche Site Project 2) both involved building an … Continued

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During my online “career” I have built several sites monetized with Amazon Associates.  In fact, 2 of the largest case studies I’ve done on my site here (Niche Site Project 1 and Niche Site Project 2) both involved building an Amazon affiliate site from scratch.

During my years of building these sites, I’ve picked up a few tactics and techniques to help me earn more in affiliate commissions from Amazon.  Some of these strategies are simple on-page “hacks”, while other are bigger pictures ways of thinking about your business.

Today I am going to share 9 specific ways that you can increase your amazon affiliate earnings.  I am also going to share some ways that you can implement these relatively quickly in your business.

1. Target Buying Phrases

When people shop online, they go through a process of general queries to more specific queries.  You want to target phrases that people are searching for when they are closer to that buying stage.

For example, let’s say you have a site about sleeping bags.  Instead of targeting phrases that are more general like, “sleeping bags” or “what is a sleeping bag”, you should target phrases where you know people are likely shopping…such as “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bags under $100″.

These searchers are clearly looking for more information in order to make a purchase decision.  You will get a much higher conversion rate (commissions!) when you get this kind of traffic on your site.

2. Target Long Tail Keywords…Even with Low Search Volume

Yes, this is similar to the first point; however, it’s important to take this one step further.  Don’t just stop at “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bag reviews”!  You should target phrases that are even longer tailed, which could mean going after keywords with very low search volume.

That’s okay!  Even though you may get less traffic per article/keyword, these are HIGH conversion type keywords.

For example, we could be targeting “best sleeping bags under $100″ or “cheap sleeping bags for toddlers”.  These are some excellent long tail phrases that people would be using that are close to a buying decisions.

Also, if you listened to my podcast with Claire Smith recently, you will know that she does VERY well (over $10k per month) by targeting these very long tail, very low volume type of keywords.  These keywords takes less links to rank for because there is just so much less competition.

As an FYI, I used Long Tail Pro to find these long tail phrases in this sleeping bag example.

3. Affiliate Link to Images

A simple but often overlooked tactic to improve you Amazon affiliate sales is to link to Amazon using all the images in your post.

When people are reading your product review articles, they will very often click on the image.  If the image link simply pulls up the image file on your site, that’s potentially one less visitor you could have sent to Amazon.

However, if your image is actually an Amazon affiliate link, you increase the chances that more people will end up on Amazon looking for products to buy.  The more clicks you send to Amazon, the more buyers you will end up with.

If you have ever tried to upload images, position them, label them, and then add an Amazon affiliate link, you know how time consuming this can be.  It’s worth it.  However, luckily there is a tool that makes adding Amazon affiliate image links much easier.

I have been using EasyAzon for a few years now, and it honestly just makes building an Amazon affiliate site much easier.

So, if you want to add images that already have your affiliate link in-place, I highly recommend that you check out EasyAzon 4 right here.

4. Use In-Content Links

Similar to using affiliate links for your images, you can send more people to Amazon by using in-content links.  In fact, these in-content links are the most likely links to get clicked!

Unfortunately, many people think that just inserting an amazon banner or an image link will be enough to make decent sales; however, this is not the case.  If you are writing useful content, then people will actually read it and will click on your links within your content.

All I mean is this: If I was talking about sleeping bags, I might simply say…”And to see the my top recommendation of a sleeping bag for a toddler under $50 click here.  The link in that previous sentence is an “in-content” link.

I also use EasyAzon 4 to make inserting these types of in-content links much faster. (The above link was inserted with EasyAzon).

Rather than going over to Amazon, finding the product I want to link to, going through the process of finding the affiliate links on Amazon, and then pasting into my website; I can just stay in my WordPress backend and pull up the product and add the link using EasyAzon.

I really like the fact that I don’t have to leave my blog post to find and insert product links.

EasyAzon 4 is on sale for the next few days here.

5. Test Using “Add to Cart” Option….Longer Cookie

Did you know that you can get a 90 day cookie when you send someone to Amazon through your affiliate link?  When you use a regular affiliate link, the cookie is just 24 hours.

However, if you create a special link that automatically adds the product to someone’s Amazon cart when they go through your affiliate link, Amazon will lengthen your cookie to 90 days!  (If they buy in 90 days, you still get the commission).

Now, I would like to clarify that I think you should test this option.  It may or may not work better in your niche.  Each market and website is different, so this option may or may not be the best for you.

To be honest, I don’t know how to create an affiliate link that auto-adds a product to someone’s cart without using a tool.  This is just a simple option in EasyAzon that you can turn on or off.

Here’s a screenshot of several of the options in EasyAzon; including the Add to Cart Option:

addtocart

6. Add on Amazon Store to Your Site

At one point I was researching sites to buy on Flippa.  One of the sites was doing extremely well on Amazon and was using a tactic that I hadn’t implemented yet.  That simple tactic was adding an Amazon store to their site.

As a result, I’ve since tested it on some of my own sites and Perrin currently has an Amazon store on his aPennyShaved.com site right here.  Having a store in place just gives your readers one more place to browse products and potentially make your way to Amazon for a purchase.

Again, more commissions for you!

Creating an Amazon store is REALLY easy too.  Simply log in to your Amazon Associates account, and then click on the “aStore” and follow the directions:

astore

7. Produce Quality Content

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that if you produce great content, not only will you rank better in Google, but more people will actually buy from you.

This is an entire process in and of itself.  Luckily, Perrin has written a few ideas on creating content that engages and converts right here.

A big part of creating “great” content is just understanding what your audience is really looking for and meeting those needs.  Some of this can be done through highly targeted content and research; but part of it also just comes with seeing what your competitors are doing and deciding what you can do better.

A couple of simple areas that you can often do better than your competitors is creating comparison charts and best seller lists.

8. Use Comparison Charts

When I first started my survival knife site (from Niche Site Project 1), I wanted to make my site better than the others that were ranking at the top of Google.  One of the ways that I decided to make my site stand out was by creating a comparison chart of the top survival knives on the market.

This produced great results for me not only in terms of quality content, but I found that more people starting buying as they compared using the chart I had created.  Since then, I don’t know if I started a bit of a trend, but nearly every Amazon affiliate site I see now uses many of the same comparison chart tactics.

I’ve written an in-depth guide on how to create your own Amazon product comparison charts right here.

Another option that has just been released is to use the TableZon extension for EasyAzon 4.  I just recently got to check out TableZon from Chris Guthrie and it’s a pretty cool way to create comparison charts quickly and easily right within WordPress.

TableZon is only available to those that buy EasyAzon 4.  It’s an upsell immediately following purchase.

You can see the discounted pricing on EasyAzon and TableZon right here.

9. Create Best Seller Lists

Another way to increase your amazon affiliate earnings is to create best seller lists within your blog posts.  This is a bit different than a comparison chart.  A comparison chart might only focus on survival knives under a certain price point for example.

A best seller list will focus on the products that sell the most in your given category.

For example, let’s say I wanted to create a list of the top 5 selling point and shoot digital cameras on Amazon.  One option is to go to Amazon.com/BestSellers and select the correct category to start creating your best seller list.  This is the current list of best selling point and shoot digital cameras:

pointandshoot

You would then have to take the information from each of those products and insert some kind of list on your site.  This could get time consuming.

Or you can use the BestSeller Azon extension for EasyAzon 4 (it’s sold as an upgrade after initial purchase).  Again, this is a brand new extension that Chris Guthrie has just released.  I don’t know of any other simple ways to create these best seller lists.

Using the plugin extension, I just created the below best seller list with my Amazon links inserted and everything in about 1 minute:

Best Selling Point and Shoot Digital Cameras

I could create a much more comprehensive best sellers list or change up how the links act.  But overall, I was able to quickly create a list of the best selling products on Amazon for my chosen category, and they are immediately inserted into the post with my affiliate link.

A Few Closing Thoughts…

Overall, hopefully some of these tips that I’ve shared can help you increase your affiliate commissions on Amazon.  These little tactics can ensure that you send the greatest number of people to Amazon.

Amazon has such huge brand awareness and trust that once you get people to the Amazon page, you just let Amazon do the rest.

In addition to the tactics and strategies I’ve mentioned, I do think a tool like EasyAzon can be quite valuable in speeding up the process of implementing lots of these strategies.  Just so you know, I have been using EasyAzon for over 3 years now, and I’ve never had an issues.

Version 4 of EasyAzon is just being released for the first time this week.  Chris Guthrie (the creator) has given me an advanced copy of v4 and I’ve been very happy with the updates I’ve seen.

In addition, the 2 extensions I mentioned (TableZon and Best Seller Azon) are only available to buyers of EasyAzon 4.  These 2 extensions are some great upgrades that can just further streamline the process of managing your affiliate links.

I recommend checking out EasyAzon 4 Right Here

As always, I’d love to hear any comments or questions that you might have in regards to increasing affiliate commissions on Amazon.  Do you have any other tactics that you use that I haven’t mentioned here?  Let us all know!

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Authority Site Project Income Report for December 2014http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-project-income-report-december-2014/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-project-income-report-december-2014/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:55:09 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5107 I’m excited to bring you the first official income report for the authority site project that Perrin and I started a few months ago! For the past few months we’ve discussed in a few posts some of the strategies we’ve … Continued

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I’m excited to bring you the first official income report for the authority site project that Perrin and I started a few months ago!

For the past few months we’ve discussed in a few posts some of the strategies we’ve been using to get traffic and earnings to the site including publishing Kindle books and Reddit marketing.

I fully expect that we will be writing a lot more in-depth blog posts about the specific tactics that we’ve used to get links, grow our site, and make money.  However, today I want to focus on some of the big picture progress that we’ve made, and then of course share a detailed income report below.

You can expect these income reports on a monthly basis now for the foreseeable future.

Progress Made So Far

As we’ve shared in previous posts about the authority site project, we’ve made quite a bit of progress on our “authority site” so far.  Some of the highlights from the project so far:

  • Site started around August 2014
  • Focused purely on content and outreach from August until November (and have continued since).
  • Received lots of natural “white hat” links including several from universities and other well known online properties.
  • Site now has an Ahrefs domain rank of 50+ and linking root domains of 100+
  • Did not try to monetize the site at all until we launched our Kindle ebook in November (see initial kindle ebook results here).
  • Added Google Adsense to the site in November
  • Site was accepted (second try) to Google News in December

Here’s a quick look at the recent traffic:

recenttraffic

The bigger traffic spikes are caused by Google News.  Some days you have news items that gain traction and other days you don’t.

However, the trend that I like is that our natural search engine traffic is steadily increasing.  So, even when we don’t have a big Google News days, we can still get some decent search engine traffic from Google.  Overall we still usually get an average of 200 to 300 sessions per day.

Here’s a look at natural search engine traffic from Google only (does not include Google news traffic or other sources):

gtraffic

This chart shows the traffic on a monthly basis.  I’m excited to see that our Google traffic continues to grow each month, but I’m even more excited about the possibilities of sales and email opt-ins from Kindle books.

Let’s take a look at the overall earnings of the site and discuss where we go from here.

Earnings

As mentioned briefly above, we did not add any monetization to the site itself until December.  We did publish our first Kindle ebook in November, but even that didn’t really start making money until the first of December.

If you have been reading along, you will know that our kindle book launch exceeding our expectations!  Perrin and I launched the book expecting to make maybe a couple hundred dollars.  We mostly launched the book because we wanted to start building an email list from the book.

However, the success of our first book on Kindle has made us completely rethink where we should be putting our time an energy.  We are definitely going to be focusing more on Kindle books now.

So, how do our kindle books and our authority site interact with one another?

In a nutshell, both the Kindle books and the website are building us an email list that we can use to launch future Kindle books or other products.

However, we are also monetizing the best we can along the way.  On our website we monetize with Google Adsense and the Kindle books are sold on Amazon.

So, with that quick explanation, let’s jump into the actual numbers for December!

Authority Site Adsense Earnings: $74.51

The earnings from the web property itself is pretty small at this point.  However, it’s the first month we even tried to monetize and you have to start somewhere!  I expect the Adsense earnings to be over double for January.

Kindle Book Earnings

This number is kinda tricky to calculate.  Even though Amazon gives reports, they are broken down by actual units sold and KU/KOLL Units (borrows and lending library).  Then they are further broken down by country.  The book can be sold and borrowed in up to 13 different countries (Amazon stores).  In addition, the currencies are different in each Amazon store, so they have to be converted to the currency you want to see.

However, I really wanted to see how much our Kindle book generated in US dollars (and I know you guys want to see it as well); so I went through the extra work to convert everything to one dollar figure.

Total Earnings for Authority Site Kindle Book: $2,638.05

kindledec

Above is the screenshot for units purchased or borrowed during December.  Please note that Dec. 1st was the last day of our $0.99 sale; which is why the units sold was so high.  All units sold after December 1st were at a price of $2.99.

I could not be any more pleased with the results of our very first Kindle ebook!  We blew away all our expectations.

If you are interested in the step by step details of how we launched our book, I’ve written a massive post right here all about it.

The sales are trending down, so I expect that January will be a smaller month than December; however, that could change as we are in the process of launching our second book!

That’s right, our second book has been written and will be live on Amazon this week.  While I don’t know exactly what to expect, I do think it will add at least a few hundred dollars a month to our revenue.

In addition, we have a 3rd book in the works already as well.  Our 3rd book will be done in 2 to 3 weeks.  And of course, we are brainstorming book titles for several other books as well in our niche.

Overall Earnings for Authority Site in December (Adsense + Kindle): $2,712.56

In addition to just the awesome income, we also started building our email list.  To be honest, I was hoping we could have built a larger list than we did, but every little bit helps.

End of December Email List Size: 240

I know…I know.  240 emails is not a huge accomplishment.  However, we really just started trying to collect emails at the end of November, and it’s a little bit of momentum towards building a larger business.  I’m happy with the progress made so far.

Next Steps

We’ve made quite a bit of progress on the site, and we have lots of plans moving forward.

One of the most exciting developments that I need to draw attention to is the fact that we got approved to Google News in December.  This is a pretty big deal.

Google has strict guidelines here for how to get listed in Google News.  We followed those steps and failed…the first time.  After making the necessary corrections (and waiting 60 days), we were able to submit our site again…and got approved!

It’s kind-of a cool feeling to know that a Google employee has visited our site and deemed it worthy of being including in their elite news section.  We are definitely building a quality site; even Google thinks so.

We are now actively writing a couple of news stories per day on our site and seeing a nice uptick in traffic on some days.  We are also getting more natural links since we joined Google News.  We are hoping that as our site continues to age and our link profile continues to grow, that the natural SEO traffic to our site will also grow.

In addition to “news” posts, we continue to add more keyword focused content.  We are in a VERY competitive market and so it’s slow going to rank for keywords.  As the chart shows at the beginning of this post, we ARE seeing a slow and steady increase in our Google traffic…it’s just going to take some time.

So, our immediate plans are to continue to post regular content to the site as a long term strategy.  However, the more short term (and hopefully long term) revenue is going to come from the Kindle books that we produce.

We will have books 2 and 3 out in the next month or so.  If those go even half as well as our first book, we will be thrilled!  In addition, if the Kindle model continues to produce, we will start scaling it even larger.  I’ll hold off on sharing my exact “scaling” plans for now until I see a bit more success from the model.

A Few Final Thoughts…

First of all, I want to say “thank you” for continuing to read my blog.  Even though I’ve shared a few posts here and there about this authority site project, I still feel like there is SO much more that I could be sharing.  I wish I could do a blog post every day to keep all of you up to date.

However, the reality of the situation is that I have a lot going on in my business outside of NichePursuits.com.  I’m involved in several different business ventures (some that I’ve mentioned and some that I haven’t)…as a result, I always feel like I run out of time at the end of the day before I have a chance to blog about things.

If NichePursuits.com was my only business, I would certainly be putting more time in my blog posts here…or even my marketing efforts to grow my readership.  However, I also feel like my blog posts are MORE valuable for the exact same reason.  I actively run businesses outside of this blog, and so hopefully the advice and “real world” case studies I share can have a greater impact in your business.

I simply want to say thank you and I’m doing my best to keep everyone updated with what’s going on in my business.

If you have any questions or comments on this blog post, please leave your thoughts below.  Thanks!

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Podcast 57: How Claire Smith Makes Over 5 Figures a Month with Niche Sites and NO Link Buildinghttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-57-claire-smith-makes-5-figures-month-niche-sites-no-link-building/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-57-claire-smith-makes-5-figures-month-niche-sites-no-link-building/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 19:16:32 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5109 Perhaps the most popular topic that I’ve ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I’ve discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites. However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I’ve … Continued

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Perhaps the most popular topic that I’ve ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I’ve discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites.

However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I’ve shifted my strategy to focus on less sites that are typically larger.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone has stopped building niche sites.  In fact, in my podcast episode today I interviewed Claire Smith that is doing VERY well with her niche sites.  She is making over $10,000 a month with her niche sites.

However, what makes Claire’s story interesting is that she has NEVER built a link to any of her sites.  In her words, “I just never got around to it.”

Because she has never even tried to build a link to any of her sites, she doesn’t have to worry when Google changes how the value links because well she doesn’t have any!

Some of her sites do have links (that came naturally without Claire’s involvement), but many don’t.  Claire is focused more on great keyword research, and targeting super long tail keywords that other sites are not targeting very well.

That’s it.  She produces regular contact based on her keyword research and does not do any outreach or link building.

Claire doesn’t blog very often, but when she does you can read her updates at SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline.com.

Podcast Interview Notes

Below you will find most of the questions and answers given during the interview.  However, please realize that these are very abbriviated notes.  We covered much more in the podcast than what you will find below.  Please listen to the entire podcast to hear the entire interview.

What were you doing professionally before you ever started building niche websites?

I was a dentist for 12 years.  The first 5 years was in one office, and I kept asking myself “is this it?”.  I got pretty bored with in, but managed to stay on for another 7 years just filling in at other dentist offices.

During the last few years as a dentist I had some spare time and starting working online on the side.

What got you started working online?

It was actually an acquaintance during dental school. She was an antique dealer and was selling on eBay.  I then started shopping on eBay, and eventually started buying stuff at local auctions to sell on eBay.  This was back in about 2000.

We started with breakables, then moved onto books and other non-breakable items.  I also bought and sold linens and related items.

Finally in about 2011, I started reading about other avenues of making money online.

What was your next step in the evolution of your business?

I was just reading around 6 months.  The Panda update came out before I really even got started.  I just started writing about my own hobbies on other people’s websites like Squidoo and Infobarrel.

I started doing monthly income reports in August 2011.

I eventually realized that I didn’t want all my content on other people’s website, so I started building my own.  I also realized that writing about hobbies isn’t the most profitable.  I started targeting more commercial products.

What kind of financial success are you having right now with Niche Sites?

Right now we are doing low 5-figures per month.  Most of that is coming from Amazon affiliates.  We have sold over $4.3 million worth of Amazon products on our own sites.  If you include our Squidoo stuff, we’ve sold over $7 million in Amazon products.

And of course the earnings vary from month to month.

How many sites do you and your husband have?

We have about 40 sites total.  I have about 30 sites and my husband has about 10.

How much work does it take to manage that many sites?

I have a really good spreadsheet that tracks everything for each site.  I include things like the keywords targeted, the bounce rates, and more.  It really becomes an economy of scale, more sites do no mean a ton more work.

Some of our sites have a couple hundred articles on them already.

Why aren’t you doing any link building for your sites?

I have no idea, I’ve never tried it!  It comes down to laziness.  I just found when I was first starting out, I knew I wouldn’t make money if I didn’t have content published.  So, it was a matter of resources at that point, pay money to get links built or spend money creating more content.

The other point is that if everyone is building links then surely the effect would get diluted.

Financially, it just didn’t seem to make sense to me.

Why are your sites ranking without links?

The biggest thing is choosing the absolute lowest competition phrases possible.  If Google is starved of content at that level, then I know its fair game.  The odds are much higher of your content showing up when no one else is writing about.

The other part is just making sure that your content is really useful.  Our articles are usually 600 to 1000 words in length.

I also don’t try to analyze my rankings very much.

How do you determine competitiveness of keywords?

I’ve done search volume of 10 or less.  The competition level is much more important than search volume.

For competition, all I’m looking at is the “All in title” query in Google.  If its below 20 title competition on the entire internet, then I know that my odds are pretty good for ranking.

What’s the highest All in Title that you would go after?

Usually I try to stay below 1,000; however, lower is much better. I use a tool called I love page 1.  I think they do pagerank, but they also do All in Title for that phrase.

The google query is: “allintitle: your keyword”

How are brainstorming and coming up with keywords to target?

I often go to the Amazon best sellers list and see what kind of products are there.  After picking a niche, I go to the Google keyword planner with keyword volumes.  Then I get the all in title on those keywords; then I start to do ratios of them and sort by the ratios.

Ratios is Title competition above search volume.  A ratio of under 1 is pretty good.  The lower the number, the better.

Do you have a specific search volume?

Typically, I only do keywords with a search volume UNDER 500 searches per month.  Typically keywords with higher search volume just have too much title competition.

I will sometimes modify the keywords: instead of “best blenders” I’ll add “What is the best blender” to come up with a less competitive keyword.

How does your content process work?

My articles are pretty much self-contained.  I usually review between 3 to 5 products on each article.  We find that 5 products will get a better click through than 3.  And I find that individual product reviews don’t do very well.

As far as keyword density, I just have them write naturally.  I don’t ask them to use the keyword a certain number of times.  We have a couple of VAs add links and images after the articles are written.

When you structure and article, are the product reviews right up front?

I think an intro about what they are going to buy is important; however, you don’t want to make it too long.  I found that people bounce more when there are no images up front or a really long text only intro.

I do find that having an intro at the top is useful.

What bounce rate is good, and what tips do you have to improve bounce rates?

Many of my bounce rates are 70 to 80% and that starts to make me uncomfortable.  On Squidoo, my bounce rates were closer to 40%.

Some niches just have a higher bounce rate naturally.  Also, certain themes can have a big impact as well.

I tend to look at my highest traffic pages and see what I can do to improve those pages.  This could be adding menus or more images.

I’ve found that category pages tend to have a lower bounce rate.  I don’t worry about tags, but categories work well because the bounce rates are low.

If images are too small at the top; bigger images make your bounce rate goes down.  Make sure your images are clickable.  I bold any anchor text.

Having related article plugins can also help.

Are your sites actually getting any links?

A few of them do, but not very many.  We don’t even put social sharing plugins on our site.

I don’t think we get very many back links, but we do get some. I don’t really check for them.

What other tips do you have for building niche sites?

You need to interpret the keywords that you are targeting.  Meaning, try to figure out what they are really looking for.  If someone types in “best high end microwave”, you should really include the high end microwaves.  Don’t think about what you can afford, just try to interpret what the intent is behind the keywords.

This is like magic that we get to do this.

I often find that working on my next site gets me to stop worrying about my previous site.

I still use EMDs and PMDs.  I just try not to narrow it down too much.

What’s happened to your sites when Google updates have come out?

For the most part, my sites tend to go up (particularly with the Penguin updates) when there are updates.  There have been a couple of times where there may have been duplicate content updates with categories and tags.

Do you have any projects in the works that you would like to mention?

We actually started selling our first product on Amazon recently.  We are part of the Chris Guthrie mastermind group.

I’ve been doing some domaining as well.  Its a good game, but I’m just not prepared to email people to sell my domains.  I’ll also probably sell a few sites this year.

Do you have any final business advice?

The main thing is to be aware of the Pareto principle; the 80/20 rule.  You need to be smart about how you are spending your efforts.

With every decision that you make there are going to be a good side and a bad side.

Where can people follow along with what you are doing?

My blog is: SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline.com

People can contact me there or leave a comment and I will respond.

Your Thoughts

As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions that you have below.  Claire will try and stop by and respond to any specific questions that you have for her.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please consider leaving a rating on iTunes right here.  Thanks!

The post Podcast 57: How Claire Smith Makes Over 5 Figures a Month with Niche Sites and NO Link Building appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-57-claire-smith-makes-5-figures-month-niche-sites-no-link-building/feed/ 190 Perhaps the most popular topic that I've ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I've discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites. - However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I've shifted my strategy to focu... Perhaps the most popular topic that I've ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I've discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites.However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I've shifted my strategy to focus on less sites that are typically larger.But that doesn't mean that everyone has stopped building niche sites.  In fact, in my podcast episode today I interviewed Claire Smith that is doing VERY well with her niche sites.  She is making over $10,000 a month with her niche sites.However, what makes Claire's story interesting is that she has NEVER built a link to any of her sites.  In her words, "I just never got around to it."Because she has never even tried to build a link to any of her sites, she doesn't have to worry when Google changes how the value links because well she doesn't have any!Some of her sites do have links (that came naturally without Claire's involvement), but many don't.  Claire is focused more on great keyword research, and targeting super long tail keywords that other sites are not targeting very well.That's it.  She produces regular contact based on her keyword research and does not do any outreach or link building.Claire doesn't blog very often, but when she does you can read her updates at SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline.com. Podcast Interview Notes Below you will find most of the questions and answers given during the interview.  However, please realize that these are very abbriviated notes.  We covered much more in the podcast than what you will find below.  Please listen to the entire podcast to hear the entire interview.What were you doing professionally before you ever started building niche websites?I was a dentist for 12 years.  The first 5 years was in one office, and I kept asking myself "is this it?".  I got pretty bored with in, but managed to stay on for another 7 years just filling in at other dentist offices.During the last few years as a dentist I had some spare time and starting working online on the side.What got you started working online?It was actually an acquaintance during dental school. She was an antique dealer and was selling on eBay.  I then started shopping on eBay, and eventually started buying stuff at local auctions to sell on eBay.  This was back in about 2000.We started with breakables, then moved onto books and other non-breakable items.  I also bought and sold linens and related items.Finally in about 2011, I started reading about other avenues of making money online.What was your next step in the evolution of your business?I was just reading around 6 months.  The Panda update came out before I really even got started.  I just started writing about my own hobbies on other people's websites like Squidoo and Infobarrel.I started doing monthly income reports in August 2011.I eventually realized that I didn't want all my content on other people's website, so I started building my own.  I also realized that writing about hobbies isn't the most profitable.  I started targeting more commercial products.What kind of financial success are you having right now with Niche Sites?Right now we are doing low 5-figures per month.  Most of that is coming from Amazon affiliates.  We have sold over $4.3 million worth of Amazon products on our own sites.  If you include our Squidoo stuff, we've sold over $7 million in Amazon products.And of course the earnings vary from month to month.How many sites do you and your husband have?We have about 40 sites total.  I have about 30 sites and my husband has about 10.How much work does it take to manage that many sites?I have a really good spreadsheet that tracks everything for each site.  I include things like the keywords targeted, the bounce rates, and more.  It really becomes an economy of scale, more sites do no mean a ton more work.Some of our sites have a couple hundred articles on them already. Niche Pursuits no 1:17:33