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What You DON’T Know About the Requirements of Niche Site Success

What You DON’T Know About the Requirements of Niche Site Success

Today I am happy to share a guest post from Tom Ewer, the owner of Leaving Work Behind, about some of the struggles associated with building niche sites.  I often post some of the successes that I have had with niche sites, but I also try to be very realistic about both the risks and other downside possibilities in this business.  I think Tom does a great job of explaining some of these risks and the inevitable bumps in the road that will certainly come.  Overall, I completely agree that consistent effort and action are required in this and any business.  Here is the post from Tom:

We all know why we’re here– to learn how to build profitable niche sites. We want to know about Spencer’s tried and tested techniques, so that we can emulate them for our own benefit. And fortunately, Spencer is generous enough to share the secrets of his success with us.

So why is it that not everyone who reads this wonderful blog goes on to become a successful niche site master? The explanation is in fact very simple (and very obvious) – action is not passive.

Reading Alone Achieves Nothing

Reading about the success of others is a double-edged sword. Learning effective techniques is one thing, but executing them on a consistent basis is another. A lot of people seem to think that success will somehow come about through some as yet unknown form of osmosis. As if reading of Spencer’s triumphs will of its own accord lead you to niche site success.

But that is simply not the case. What a lot of people do not appreciate, when they read Niche Pursuits, is the sheer number of times that Spencer failed in order to get to where he is now. And it’s not like he makes an effort to hide this (quite the opposite).

Here’s the problem with many people’s perception of success. They see the event (a six figure income from niche sites), but they do not consider the process (years of trial and error).

The Two Fundamentals of Niche Site Success

When it comes to niche sites, you cannot piggyback on the success of others. There are no shortcuts. You need to do just two things:

  • Understand, in principle, how it is possible
  • Apply yourself consistently, over time

If you miss either one of those steps out, you will fail. And it is the second step that is missing from your typical niche site builder’s efforts.

They read up on effective keyword research and SEO. They set up the site, write a couple of articles, build a few links, then stop and wait. And for some bizarre reason, success does not come knocking.

Be Ready & Willing to Take Risks

I had someone email me the other day asking whether it was really worth trying to make money from niche sites because “I am afraid that I’ll put all the effort in and not get anything back”. I couldn’t imagine having a worse attitude. If you’re not prepared to risk your time in order to see whether or not you can be successful, you’re going nowhere fast. No one has a guarantee for you. Either take risks, or stick with your day job.

As I said earlier, Spencer made an awful lot of mistakes to get to where he is now, and he won’t mind me saying that. Imagine if he had taken the attitude of the chap who emailed me. He certainly wouldn’t be where he is now – far from it.

My Experiences

My first niche site was an unmitigated disaster.

After three months, I was #1 in Google for several medium-competition keywords. My income was a modest (but steadily growing) $4 – $5 a day. I was beginning to target additional related keywords, and SERP positions were looking pretty rosy.

Then I got hit by Google. My rankings, traffic, and income all disappeared overnight. Ouch.

At that point, I had two options – I could give up, or move onwards and upwards. I chose option two, and immediately set up a new authority site. And now, I am just starting to repurpose the content of my original niche site onto a new domain.

What you might consider most unusual is that I do not regret my foolish actions (i.e. overenthusiastic backlinking) that led to Google’s wrath being enacted upon my niche site. Why? Because I learnt a huge lesson from the whole experience that won’t be forgotten soon.

Application & Consistency

So please, make sure that you are applying yourself. Never fool yourself into thinking that you have done enough. You wil have done enough when you get to where you want to be in life. Until that time, you need to apply yourself – constantly and consistently.

Tom Ewer is the owner of Leaving Work Behind, a site for anyone who is interested in online business or quitting their job. He recently released a comprehensive free guide on keyword research. Get in touch with Tom at his Facebook page.

40 Comments for this Post

  1. Ryan


    This is a great post and is actually one I can relate to. I haven’t really talked about it on my own blog yet, but I have been trying to emulate Spencer’s success here also. I got very excited early on and now a few months in realized that I bought about 15 domains that are not good candidates and spent about $400 of which most is a waste for now. I have learned quite a bit but I’ll save that for a post of my own soon.

    But thanks for posting this. It is certainly timely in my case.

    • Spencer


      Hey Ryan – there really is a big learning curve. So, trust me…everyone stumbles early on. However, hopefully some of what I can share will shorten that learning curve a bit!

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Hey Ryan,

      A huge investment of time is inevitable, and is something you can sacrifice willingly – most people probably have to be less generous with their financial investment! But that is the beauty of niche sites – you can experiment without spending huge amounts of money.



  2. Tim


    Very good article. There are defninately no earnings without any risks. So many people simply try two websites and then stop chasing the dream of passive income. Instead they should learn from their mistakes….

    • Spencer


      Yep, it takes consistent effort!

  3. Federico


    This post just came in the right time, risk is all about in business, I understood that this year and I’m on this trials and erros level.Hope 2012 will be brighter…

    No,I won’t give up!

    Thank you

    • Spencer


      Yep, I’ve had lots of trial and error as well. Best of luck in 2012!

  4. Miggy


    Great reminder on the value of perseverance. I’ve started 5 niche sites already, some of them are climbing the ranks but I’m still nowhere near my target income. But it will come. 😀 I just need to go through my own learning curve.

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Absolutely. And the learning curve is steep…but as long as you are learning more, you should never stop.

  5. Jenny Nassour

    Jenny Nassour

    Great post!

    Fantastic reminder to just keep going. Passive income does not equal passive approach 😉

  6. Richard Scott

    Richard Scott

    Hi Tom. Great post! I know so many people that say “I am afraid that I’ll put all the effort in and not get anything back”. When they see what happens with Panda and they see people getting banned Adsense accounts, it’s easy to see why people are nervous to even begin. I don’t blame them, but I also know I’m not giving up either. I firmly believe that persistent equals results. And sooner or later, something will work out. It has to. I won’t allow it not to. It may take the rest of my life, but I will not fail. 🙂

    • Spencer


      I agree Richard…great attitude!

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      I second Spencer’s comment – I couldn’t imagine a better attitude! Just keep plugging away…

  7. PLR Article Writer

    PLR Article Writer

    Great post! I can relate to most of it, so it’s always good for me to read stuff like this.

    The part that resonated the most with me is “action is not passive”. I absolutely LOVE that! So much in fact, I’m going to print it out and put it on the wall in my home office.

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Glad I could be of help – it’s a bit of a mantra for me 🙂

  8. OutsideMyMind


    Tom/Spencer…thanks for sharing. It’s always good to hear stories like this in order to know you’re not alone. Just like Tom’s story about his first niche website earning money and then getting slapped, I had a similar experience a long time ago, and when I first started. My friend and Adsense mentor, thought I going to quit at the time, I was so furious; it took me about 2 days to get over it, but I forged on. The two things that really stand out in my mind if you want to succeed with making money online is persistence and patience.

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      I think a lot of people have gone through similar situations – it is what you do when you get knocked down that really defines you.

  9. Kent @ Internet Marketing Tips

    Kent @ Internet Marketing Tips

    Tom, congrats for your great guest post. I totally agree that applying consistently and being patience.

    I am happy to know Spencer from Pat’s Niche Site Duel and have learned a lot about the basis principle on building Adsense niche sites.

    Willing to take risks is hard for me as an engineer. I took some time to consider buying Long Tail Pro. Was it a risk to spend $100 on a software that I haven’t used? Indeed, it was one of my best investment and time-saver.

    At least I get away from high competition kw right the way. 🙂

    It’s a journey, on-going execute what you learn, willing to fail, and running extra miles.

    Regarding to Adsense income, I’m glad to make $180 in Nov. It’s nothing comparing to Spencer success. At least I know it works as his fellow student. Now, I am trying new niches, gaining traffic, expanding to hit $1000 a month soon.

    • Spencer


      Awesome Kent! Now that you have hit $180/mth you essentially know everything you need. You just need to replicate and grow! Congrats!

      • Kent @ Internet Marketing Tips

        Kent @ Internet Marketing Tips

        Spencer, thanks for all your inspiration and free information. I just finished listening to AdsenseFlipper first podcast.

        Didn’t know it was a huge investment and took time to build LTP. I am in software industry and willing to pay for great product.

        LTP is an awesome deal and the update and support is outstanding. I have a few feature request, what would be the best way to send over?

    • Michael


      Congrats on making $180/mo. That’s awesome. It just goes to show if you learn and then actually DO you can succeed. Good to know that others are succeeding online as well.

      I will soon join you there Kent. At least I really hope so. Doing a massive link building push at the moment so it’s slowly paying off with my rankings increasing now. Can’t wait to get on page one of Google and watch the cash roll in! Woot.

  10. Chris


    Great post. Although I don’t think Spencer has failed at anything in this business, unless you count his poor earning sites. But since building those was necessary to find his winners (at least with his volume site model), they were just part of the process (business as usual), not failures.

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Failure is part of the process Chris 🙂 I think Spencer would be the first to say that he has failed in order to succeed.

  11. Sunil l Internet Marketing

    Sunil l Internet Marketing

    Spencer thanks for introducing Tom.

    Tom good stuff. I am with you – I too get asked the same questions. The answer is really too simple, so much that it goes in one ear and out the other. Everyone is interested, but very few are committed….

    Curious – do you know why you were hit by Panda/Google? What are you doing different with your authority site? What are you doing different with the new site on which you are re purposing the old site’s content?

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Hey Sunil,

      I strongly suspect that I was hit for hammering my site with the same three anchor texts on a consistent basis. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb to Google.

      So this time around, I am mixing my anchor texts up – targeting several keywords and also throwing in generic “click here”s, etc.



  12. Bryan @

    Bryan @

    A lot of truth in this post Tom. Internet marketing is all about consistency and is a never-ending learning experience. Then again, that is how it is for just about any business out there.

    I know what you went through. I had a bunch of awesome sites that were de-indexed in September out of nowhere. So, I fought tooth and nail with Google and stood my ground. Proud to say that after 2 reconsideration requests and nearly 1 1/2 months later, all of those sites popped back (I made a couple posts on my blog about the whole experience).

    Now, I’m not only earning money again, but I’m expanding and building up more sites day in and day out in with various methods of monetization. Sometimes things try and beat you down, but you’ve just got to pick up your head and keep things moving.

    Best of luck to you with your new site! I still wouldn’t give up on the old one. You never know what can happen a few months down the road!


    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Hey Bryan,

      That’s a great story – you persevered and eventually made it back. It would have been so easy just to give up…



  13. Michael


    Hey Tom –

    What a great and positive post. I like your attitude towards niche site building. I have the same attitude. I am still in the failing, testing, and learning stage but I haven’t given up. I am starting to see ranking results increasing and it’s just motivating me to continue to use the teachings of Spencers and others and apply it to my own stuff. I’ll learn for myself what works and what doesn’t work and improve myself as I go until my niche sites are a massive success.

    I look forward to the things to come.

    Thanks again for the post Tom.

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      No problem Michael – as long as your progress is on a general upwards curve, it’s all good!

  14. Rahul


    Well i am the same path..take maximum risk but try to learn most out of that.

  15. Stan@Devenir un Mentaliste

    Stan@Devenir un Mentaliste

    Thank you Tom for this excellent post and thank you Spencer for your blog that I really appreciate !!

    Based on my personal experience and adventures here are a few findings that I can also share with you all :
    – If you don’t try, this is the best way to fail
    – It is not because that you fail now that you will fail tomorrow. Once again, if you give up, you might be just on step away from success. But if you don’t make that extra step, then you will never know.
    – We often underestimate the time necessary for us to deeply understand concepts. I often consider myself as a baby when I enter a new field, and therefore I make baby steps… And baby step are often awkward ! But in the end, babies walk and then they run. How long will it take ? Some time.
    – The best way to understand a concept or a tip is often to apply it rapidly, even if it is incorrectly. Because, when you do this, some things happens ! And everything that is happening is a great feedback and opportunity to learn, correct and make a better move.
    – In the end, I think that it is also about how we can make our lifes more interesting and juicy. Being in an everyday learning process, testing, implementing is part of the fun. independently from the end result. And if you have fun, then your life is better.


    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Great advice Stan – a wonderful addition to the article. Thank you!


    Thanks for this great post Tom. You’re right. Sometimes I think we all find ourselves looking at the success stories of others in a somewhat passive way.

    Even though this is great motivation we MUST TAKE ACTION. Use it as fuel to get ourselves going.

    I also agree about the fear aspect of this business. I too had websites earning some nice income and then the “Panda” udpate happened and hit us hard.

    Thankfully we decided to keep going and now our on pace for our best month ever. BUT it was the simple choice to keep going forward that made us able to get back up on our feet.

    Great post Tom


    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer

      Hey Omar,

      Thanks for the kind words. It is a little frightening to look back and think, “what if I hadn’t…”.

      We can always use that thought to fuel our determination moving forwards.



  17. Hanish


    Spencer, I am an reading your blog for 2 months now & find it very informative and open for newbies thank you for your kindness, Some day if i am successful in this business i will be proud to point you one among my gurus…

    A quick question, i am also starting to jump in to niche building wagon soon.. but will a 5 page niche site get approved by google adsense or i must start a authority site first to get google approved… if yes how big the site must be…

    Thank you for your help..


    • Spencer


      Yes, you can get approved with a 5 page site.

  18. NicheSiteTips


    Great post. I wish I had read this 2.5 years ago! I had some moderate success with affiliate marketing. I almost made it to $1000 per month, then got dropped by the biggest affiliate program. Unforunately I put all my eggs in one basket and couldn’t do anything else with the sites, or at least I didn’t know enough at the time. I sold the sites for a fraction of what they were worth and moved on….

    I wish I had just taken the hit and figured out another plan. Today I would have aged domains! The worst part is that I was re-instated into the affiliate program, 1 month after selling the websites. Sometimes affiliate marketing has disappointments.Learning to manage them is key.

    • Tom Ewer

      Tom Ewer


      Sounds like you went through a torrid time, and that you could have reacted better. Hindsight is a bitch, right? 😉

      But think of it this way – you learned an enormous amount from the process. Moving forwards, you could use all that knowledge to do so much better than you did in the past. You just can’t buy that kind of experience.



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