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2013 Year in Review: How Did it Go?

So, its hard to believe that 2013 is already over and its time to review the entire year!  Its seems like just a few short months ago when I wrote an in-depth post outlining my goals for 2013.

As you read this post, I hope it makes you reflect on your own goals and perhaps inspires you to stretch yourself a little more and perhaps become a little better in your business.  Obviously this post is talking about me, my business, and my goals…but in some small way I hope it can benefit you.

Overall, I know that public accountability is a huge motivator.  I've thought about my original goals shared on Niche Pursuits here many time throughout the year.  You guys all make me nervous…because I don't want to come short of my goals!

So, with that, lets review what my goals were last year and the results!

2013 Goals and Results

For this year, I had 6 primary goals that I discussed in January 2013 here.

1. Build 2 Public Niche Sites – Completed!

I am happy to say that I accomplished this goal in BIG way during 2013!  I was able to build the site BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com as Niche Site Project 1 and it did extremely well!  Obviously it had some ups and downs as people started copying my site and then building spammy links to it for negative SEO purposes…but overall it was actually very profitable, and still makes money despite the challenges.

I will continue to work on this project and hopefully recover all my rankings…stay tuned!

After Niche Site Project 1, I turned the reigns over to you and let you decide what type of public project I should do.  The popular vote came back that I should train someone without much experience to build their first successful niche site.  In fact, I even let YOU pick the student.  The popular vote came back that I should select Perrin.

Perrin has knocked the niche site project 2 site out of the park!  Through several coaching sessions and video training, Perrin was able to build aPennyShaved.com.  Not only does he currently rank #1 or 2 in Google for his primary keyword, but he made over $650 in December 2013!

I fully expect that aPennyShaved.com will earn over $1000 this month (January), he is well on his way.

Not only were these niche sites profitable for Perrin and I, but I have heard MANY stories from others sharing their success by following these case studies step by step.  So, congratulations to all of you out there for your successful sites!

2. Accomplish at least 1 “Niche Pursuit” – Failed

As a reminder, a “Niche Pursuit” is a small niche business idea – outside of building niche sites.  This might be buying and selling used books, create a small piece of software, or anything else.

I suppose that I could count Rank Hero as a niche business venture that I undertook this year.  But I really view that as an extension of my existing business.

As the year went on, I found that I needed more and more time to focus on the growth of Long Tail Pro, NichePursuits.com, and my own niche sites (among other things).  So, perhaps its not a bad thing that I focused and grew my existing business, but it does mean that I didn't fully accomplish this goal.

3. Double the Average Monthly Unique Visitors to NichePursuits.com – Failed

In 2012, NichePursuits.com had 199,598 Unique Visitors; or an average of 16,633 monthly unique visitors.

In 2013, NichePursuits.com had 337,290 Unique Visitors, or an average of 28,107.5 monthly unique visitors.  So, I did not hit my goal, but my blog still had tremendous growth!  Growing by nearly 70% in one year is pretty good for a site that was already well established…I'm happy!

I should also clarify that is 337,290 unique people!  That is a ton of people that have read my content…amazing!  Many of you come back more than once, so the number of visits and pageviews is much higher.  Here's a nice screenshot that shows unique visitors, number of visits, and pageviews from 2013:

nptraffic
Click to Enlarge

Nearly 1.8 million page views sounds pretty big to me!  (The spikes are when I send an email or publish a new post in case you are wondering). Is 147,854 pageviews per month good?  Doesn't matter so much…I love the growing community of people here at NichePursuits.com.  Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and sharing!

4. Double the Affiliate Sales on NichePursuits.com – Completed!

I didn't share how much I made from affiliate commissions last year on my site here.  I don't plan on sharing that amount this year either – I will just compare the 2 years to see if it doubled.

I continued my pattern of not optimizing my site for affiliate commissions, I could do much more to add more affiliate links to posts or add more advertising.

I haven't completed 100% of the accounting for 2013, but I was able to pull enough rough numbers together to know that I did indeed double my affiliate sales on NichePursuits.com!  I attribute most of this to how poorly I did in 2012 rather than how well I did in 2013.

I still actually view the amount of affiliate commissions I earn as low for the amount of traffic that my site gets.  All of these “affiliate commissions” do not include things like sales of Long Tail Pro, Rank Hero, Niche Website Theme, etc.  (These are products where I am an owner).

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5. Double my Income from Niche Sites – Failed

I really wanted to make this happen, but other than the Niche Site Projects, I actually only built out about half a dozen other sites.  I experienced at lot of growth with my blog (as you can see) as well on Long Tail Pro, and simply did not have much time.

For most of 2013, I was still trying to do everything myself – or when I did hire a full-time VA based in the Philippines, it didn't work out.

Despite all that, I am happy to say that my niche site income DID increase by 38% in 2013.  So, even though I didn't hit my goal, I'm happy with the growth in earnings!  In a nutshell, my older sites (built pre-2013) continued to be stable or grow; and my sites in 2013 added even more to my bottom line.

I'm happy with 38% growth considering the trouble I had with VAs and limited number of new sites built.

However, what's exciting is that I now have an AWESOME full-time employee helping me build out lots of new niche sites in 2014!  With his help, I fully expect to double my niche site income in 2014…woohoo!

6. Read 1 Business Book Per Month – Complete!

I set a goal to read a new business book each month, and I'm happy to say that I accomplished that goal!  I was providing reviews of some of the books I read early in the year (such as here and here); however, I fizzled on the reviews later in the year.  But I still read the books!  Some of these are self published authors and some are not.

Here are the 12 books that I read in 2013:

Overall, I made it through 13 books…sweet!  I plan to up the goal in 2014.  

Review and Your Thoughts

Overall, 2013 was an amazing year for my business, and I'm happy with the goals that I completed. Even though I only completed 3 of my 6 goals, I still made positive progress on all of them.  I can live with that.

In addition, I accomplished some other things this year in my business that I haven't shared publicly.  One of those was the tremendous growth of Long Tail Pro in 2013. I want to thank all of you for that!  Is anyone interested in hearing more about my software business – Long Tail Pro?

I look forward to 2014, and hope to make it the best year in my business to date.  I'll be sharing my goals for 2014 next week in a blog post.

What about your 2013 goals, how did it go?  What do you have planned for 2014?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on my goals as well as your own.  Best of luck to everyone in their business this year!


Strategy and Mindset

By Spencer Haws
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John Shea

Awesome post! Must be inspiring for your audience to see what you have been able to do with all of the niche site information you have provided to the public.

I know it’s helped me and motivated me to get started with my own sites.

I will have to check out some of the books you read for sure as well.

My year went fairly well and I see a lot more happening in 2014 for my blog and my online ventures! I’m currently working on my first Kindle book and working to get a course launched in Udemy!

Spencer Haws

Thanks John! Best of luck with your 2014 ventures, Kindle book, and Udemy course…sweet!

Vlada

Congratulations man!

Your public case studies are definitely the best content type you published 🙂

Spencer Haws

Thanks Vlada…good to know; hope to have more in 2014!

IMPromoCoder

Very inspiring indeed!
And about the constant battle between starting something new or working more on an already successful venture – I think you did the right choice. You have something big here ( both NichePursuits and LTP), no sense in neglecting them for a few more niche sites. Best solution probably lies in outsourcing. Doing it right might be a big goal for 2014.
Keep up the great work!

Spencer Haws

Thanks, I agree. I’ve hired someone full-time to help me ramp up the niche site business even more. Gives me the time to focus on my existing business.

Dan Thompson

I read about half of the books you discussed. I think the War of Art is my favorite.

4 Hour Work Week – Productivity Section and War of Art are my staples when I start slowing down. I love this line

“Madonna doesn’t walk around her house in cone bras. She does not identify with “Madonna”. Madonna employs “Madonna”.

Going to check out the remaining books on that list. Sounds like you hit a lot of your goals. Congrats

Spencer Haws

Nice quote, lol! But it makes total sense.

Perrin

Congrats on the viewership! Those are HUGE numbers!

Also, I have a feeling your niche site portfolio will be expanding pretty rapidly this year. 🙂

Spencer Haws

That’s the plan!

Lloyd Robinson

Great post, Spencer. Congrats on your continuing success! I’m a big reader and really enjoyed your book reviews. My plan for 2014 is to follow all of the great advice that you and Perrin have shared in your NSP2 series and create my first profitable niche site.

Just want to say thanks for all your amazing content. I follow a lot of business podcasts and blogs and this one has been the most helpful to me in getting started with making money online – I have found it both extremely informative as well as inspirational. Keep up the good work!

Spencer Haws

Thank you Lloyd…comments like these really let me know that what I write has an impact…THANK YOU!

Bharati

hey if you get time can you post on how to
– use Easy Azon plugin effectively in the tables as shown in your niche sites
– Also the effective ways to increase the click through and conversion rate for amazon aff.

Rus

I don’t know what you earned, but I greatly appreciate everything you’ve shared. You have helped me figure out a lot of little gotchas. Best of luck in 2014!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Rus!

Chris R Jensen

Congratulations on the great results!!

MIchael Kawula

Congratulations Spencer looks like a really successful year to me.

It was a pleasure meeting and getting to know you at NMX.

Hope the family was pumped to see you back home. My son actually got off the video games to pick me up at the airport.

Have a Rocking 2014 ~ Mike

Spencer Haws

Great meeting and hanging out with you as well! Glad to hear your son took a break from Minecraft…still working on mine! 🙂

Best of luck in 2014!

Don Modekali

Thanks Spencer for this post. I haven’t set my 2014 goals yet but I must confess I’m going to steal one of your goals; reading one book per month.

Cheers!

Don

Spencer Haws

Sounds good!

Michele

There is one other accomplishment that you may not have been shooting for but that you achieved nevertheless.

It has to do with me. I followed your Niche Site projects and learned more in a few days than I have ever learned from all the products I bought or “guru” I listened to. And for the first time in my internet business pursuits I have two sites that are consistently earning money each and every month. That was accomplished over a six month period in 2013. Now 2014 is showing as a continuation of that success

I finally understand what I am doing and it is all because of you and how clear and detailed you have been.

I will always be grateful to you Spencer for your generosity of sharing your experience, and for your honesty.

I am also the owner of Long Tail Platinum and can’t thank you enough for this tool that has made my life so much easier and given me the luxury of time to really work on my sites.

I’m starting a third site this month and looking forward to it rather than with dread. I know what to do now. And, it is all because of you.

Thank you Spencer!

Spencer Haws

Wow! Thank you SO much Michele. I feel incredibly humbled receiving so much praise. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences over the past year. THANK YOU!

Dave Irwin

Spencer, you’ve been an inspiration all year long. I had lots of ups and downs this year, but the things I’ve been most proud of have been thanks to following along with you on your public niche site projects. Thanks for all you’ve done. Keep it up!

Spencer Haws

Thank you Dave…best of luck!

Aris tchoukoualeu

I learned a lot from you this year, and I have to say you helped me a lot with the value you provide through this web site.
keep on the good work, and thank you

Roberto

Congrats Spencer.
I started my first niche site thanks to you.
Thank you man!

Jon Haver

Awesome stuff Spencer, thanks for the glimpse into the business you have developed.

Surprisingly the book list may be the most helpful…although I don’t read much I listen to audiobooks/podcasts a lot and in 2014 want to listen to more in depth audiobooks and fewer “more of the same” podcasts.

Jon @ Increase Credit Limit

Congrats on a great year Spencer! Your site has helped inspire me (and show me the way) for a couple of niche sites, which I am working on and will continue to work on in 2014! Love reading all of your stuff, and I am sure you will continue to have great success!

Fran

Hey Spencer,
I follow less and less people lately but always read your posts. I always feel like I’ve learned something and enjoyed it at the same time.

I would Love to know more about your longtail pro side of business. I’m not planning any kind of software launch but am very interested all the same.

Congrats on the accomplishments and don’t beat yourself up over target not reached. They’re by no means failures in my book.

Fran

Ps. Do you read the books your not enjoying until the end? If I don’t like a book within the first few chapters I skim a bit and if I’m still not impressed I put it down and move on. Time is too valuable to waste in things that don’t make an impact for you IMO.

Steve

Thanks Spencer – love the idea of a book a month, don’t know how you fit it all in!

Greg

Hi Spencer!

Thanks for a great year of articles to this most excellent blog.

If there was only one thing I could learn about your business activity last year it would be this: How many seed keywords did you type into your Long Tail Pro account in 2013?

Michael

Congrats for your awesome 2013, Spencer. 2014 will be even better.

Asfaqur Rahman

Awesome post Spencer, Congrats for your success in 2013. It is very much inspiring for your audience to see what you have been able achieve last year. Looking forward for your next post.

Tung Tran

Congrats on your great achievements in 2013 Spencer!

I think the biggest one is that you’ve made such a big impact on a lot of other people’s lives (including me) 😛

That’s why we will keep following you and buy your products.

2013 is a pretty good year for me both financially & personally but I’m sure I can do much better in 2014.

My very first big thing in 2014 is to launch a paid community in February 6th so I can focus on bring more & more value to a group of like-minded & commited people 😀

Wish you a great 2014 Spencer!

Tung

Spencer Haws

Thanks Tung…its always great to hear the impact these case studies are having! Best of luck in 2014!

Alain

Hey Spencer,

Congrats, all I can see is some awesome achievements ! You’ve become an inspiration for many who now know that they can reach financial indpedence sooner than they imagine.

I hope you’ll keep updating your products, especially nichewebsite theme who’d need a brush up! I’m using it all all my websites and it’s starting to look a bit outdated compared to what we see nowadays. Keep us posted with that. Thanks and have a great 2014

Spencer Haws

I do plan on brushing up the niche website theme this year, hopefully in the next few months.

Brian

Spencer congratulations on a great year and thank you for all that you do. The Niche Site Projects keep me motivated and pushing forward on my own Niche Pursuits.

B

Atin

Congrats on the achievements spencer! I am definitely inspired by you, Have already started my own niche project in the last week of december. Working hard towards it

Keep on posting the amazing stuff on niche pursuits 🙂
hoping for a one more training session of a niche project 3 🙂

Aman

Great stuff Spencer and congrats on an awesome 2013. Even without hitting some of you goals, you managed to cross several milestones and they were still a success.

Looking forward to more amazing content from you in 2014. Any plans on new features for Long Tail Pro? We’d love to hear if you have something new planned

Spencer Haws

Thanks Aman! Yes, we are adding automatic rank tracking for your websites very soon. A few other features in the works or discussion.

Benjamin Pusch

Great post, as always!
As a LTP purchaser I would be interested if any new features are planned for the future? 🙂

Great Work, keep going!

Ben

Spencer Haws

See my response to Aman above. Lots more planned!

Daniel Flucke

I’m one of the new readers you gained in 2013, and I’ve been back many many times!

In answer to your question at the end of the post, I’d definitely be interested in hearing more about how your software business is going. LTP is a great product. I used the trial this summer to find a keyword for my first site, then I bought it and subscribed to Platinum when that site started making money. I’d love to hear more about your end of it.

Spencer Haws

Thanks for the feedback Daniel! Maybe I’ll do more posts about what it takes to bootstrap your own software business. Thanks!

Brian Dean

Congrats Spencer 😀

Those unique visitor stats are incredible: over 300 THOUSAND people visited your site last year.

That’s enough to fill up my baseball team’s ballpark (Fenway) 10 times!

Look forward to reading your 2014 goals next week.

Spencer Haws

Wow, that IS alot of people…cool!

Chris

Despite not hitting all goals 100%, I’d say 2013 was definitely a huge success, congrats on that!

A goal of mine for this year is to create an Amazon themed site similar to your public niche projects. I purchased EasyAzon through your link and am going through the tutorial now. Keep up the great work!

Jason

Spencer,

It’s nice to see the evolution of your income. I think it’s the path that many successful people follow (selling shovels instead of mining for gold)

A. Find something that makes money (Niche Sites)

B. Create something that makes you more efficient/effective in doing A (LTP)

C. Sell B to others wanting A

Repeat B/C

Keep it up! Looking forward to what 2014 brings.

Spencer Haws

You almost have it right. You say repeat B/C, but that’s not accurate…I’m actually repeating B/C and A. In fact, I just hired a full-time employee to expand my “A” (Niche Sites): https://www.nichepursuits.com/a-major-step-forward-in-my-business-hiring-a-full-time-employee/. I’m VERY much still in the niche site game. So, I do all 3.

Jason

I just read your new post. Very exciting. Mutually beneficial to both of you. Scaling up the websites again will be awesome for the community as it will provide you more opportunity to test things and report back.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Jason!

Darren

Spencer,

Hi, great results, even if you failed on some of your goals. You probably had a more positive reaching effect then ever before, just by doing your Public nice sites.

Great job.

Looking forward to what you do this year..

Chris

Question for you Spencer and Perrin as well actually, in regards to your Amazon sites. Are you using any of the geolocation features of EasyAzon?

If so, I’m curious if you’re seeing sales results from Amazon associate accounts from places like UK, Germany, etc. ?

Spencer Haws

I do use geolocation, but haven’t noticed sales yet.

Chris

Great, thanks for the info.

Christian

Nice overview Spencer and congrats with the achievements. I know that setting goals is good for your focus, but in a year much can change.

I myself also made a review of 2013, but it’s in Dutch 😉 http://www.slagtermedia.nl/wat-heeft-2013-slagter-media-opgeleverd-en-wat-brengt-2014/. The website is growing so that’s super, but I learn a lot from your blog posts! Keep up the good work!

Tattoos Alchemist

Spencer for all the hard work on 2013! hope to see more great stuff and achievements on 2014 🙂

And if i can ask – do you see yourself operate a “bigger” business, let’s say 20 people, or you desire to keep yourself small for less headache the logistic problems?

Kent Chow

Spencer, indeed I didn’t have much online business goal in 2013..

More on my personal one.

However, I made some extra online income unexpectedly.

Again, thank you so much on those Case Studies. I followed along and they are in spring and made me alot!

Out of those 12 books, which one or three made the most impact on your Niche Site/online business? I love to check them out in 2014.

Thanks and good luck in 2014. You have a great plan ahead!

Spencer Haws

I’m not sure which book had the most impact…I highlighted the ones I liked though – lots of great ones.

Anoda Kelvin

Hi Spencer.Its Kelvin here and i wish to say thanks for sharing details of your business success the past year.I do hope you get better at managing your various businesses and i think hiring others will be the best way to go.Meanwhile congratulations on a successful past year and sure this year will be much greater with the goals and plans you have already set out to accomplish.
Its gonna be a great year for all of us.Thanks once again for sharing.
Kelvin.

Chris

Hi Spencer,
May I suggest if you could include how you create and configure a site similar to your nsp1 in your “Longtail Classroom” using wordpress and your niche website theme ?
Thanks
Chris

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