Building Small Wins: Ryan McLean’s Niche Site Success Story!

By Spencer Haws |

Are you ready for another success story?  I know I am!

Today I am sharing the story of Ryan McLean, a pharmaceutical rep from Australia.  Ryan shares that he has built up his side income to near $1,000 a month.  What I also like is that Ryan also shares the exact URL of one of his sites that we can all check out.

The site that Ryan shares is not a huge money making site, but is a perfect example of a “small win”, that has growth potential.  The best part is that Ryan started this site in May, and he’s already seeing some great success with it!

Ryan has been able to put together several “small wins”, that now equal a decent little side income to help support his wife and 2 kids.  Ryan or others in his situation can now either build these sites into something more significant, or just build additional sites.

In addition, Ryan shares some strategies that are working for him, along with a couple of sites where you can check out his work or following along with what he is doing.

Ryan, take it from here!…

Ryan McLean’s Success Story

1. What is your name and current job/profession?

My name is Ryan McLean. I am a 25 year old Australian who is married with 2 kids (not your average 25 year old). I work full time as a pharmaceutical rep, visiting pharmacies in the Newcastle region of NSW.

I also run multiple websites online (currently 9 websites) and I do some consulting for friends with businesses. Some small affiliate income there, nothing special. All in all I make between $400 – $1,000/month online which I reinvest back into the business.

2. How did you get started building niche websites?  How long have you been building websites?

I started building websites back in 2006 when I read a PDF book about how to make money in 30 days starting with $0. It was a story of a woman who started a blogspot blog and sold t-shirts on there through cafe-press. I think she made $70 in 30 days or something but it really started my online career.

I made loads of crappy websites on using mostly scrapped content. They never made any money and they didn’t get me anywhere.

I did almost exactly what you (Spencer) did and started a personal finance blog which I ran for about 2 years. The most I ever made was $200 in a month selling paid reviews, it never really got much traffic despite often posting 3 TIMES PER DAY!

Then about 3 years ago I micro-tested a property finder service which I didn’t end up launching. But I wrote some content to get more traffic to test the idea further. Worked on it every now and then but basically let it be. Well that is now my flagship site and earns me a great deal of [almost] passive income each month.

3. Tell us about one (preferred) or multiple of your successful websites.  What is the URL and what niche are you targeting?   If you are not willing to publicly share your domain or niche, that’s just fine.

I am going to go out on a limb and reveal my URL. It is

As you can probably guess I am targeting the audiobook niche. I am a big consumer of audiobooks so I thought it made sense to take that passion of mine and see if I could turn it into a profitable business.

Bestaudiobooks was taken as a domain name and I could find anything else truly suitable. Which is why I ended up settling in the above domain name. I may rebrand it in the future if the site ever gets big.

4. How much money do you make from this successful website(s) each month?

I started this website on the 22nd May 2013 (less than 2 months ago) after doing some keyword research and having an evening spare. In June 2013 I made approximately $35.

Approximately $10 came from Adsense and $25 came from an affiliate sale to

Traffic stats look like this:

May: 50 visitors
June: 530 visitors
July: 1,033 visitors (estimated)

UPDATE: Ryan also sent in his earnings from this site for the month of July so far (July 19th):

Here is an update on my July earnings so far
Adsense – $25 (approx)
Affiliates – $85
Total: $110
Screenshot from (affiliate sales):
Google Analytics for past 30 days:

5. What is the reason for this website’s success?

The website has a home page (currently incomplete) and just 5 posts. The reason for the success for my website is 3 fold.

Firstly, keyword research. I didn’t just look for a single keyword that was low competition – I looked for an overall niche that had varied traffic sources and a few keyword terms that I could potentially rank for.

The main keyword I am going for “best audiobooks” gets over 2,400 local search per month but is fairly competitive. So I am also going after lower competition keywords like “best sci-fi audiobooks” (110 local searches) and “best audio books for kids” (140 local searches).

Much lower than most people would look for. But I find that because of the long tail if I write a great article I will get way more traffic than originally predicted.

Secondly, awesome content. My posts are extremely thought out and fairly long. I took the approach of “How can I make this the absolute best resource out there for this keyword phrase”.

Want To Build Smart & Relevant Internal Links...Quickly?

NichePursuits Rating

Link Whisper is a revolutionary tool that makes internal linking much faster, easier, and more effective.  It makes it simple to boost your site’s authority in the eyes of Google. You can use Link Whisper to:

  • Bring out your orphaned content that isn’t ranking
  • Create smart, relevant, and fast internal links
  • Simple yet effective internal links reporting: what has lots of links and what pages need more links? 

Click here to revolutionize your site’s way of doing internal links

Build better internal links with Link Whisper

The fact that my articles are long seems to work great for long tail phrases so I start to rank in google for at least some terms usually within the first 30 days.

Thirdly, YouTube videos. I will make a YouTube video of the exact blog post (I literally film a screencast of me reading the blog post quickly). I will link to the blog post and the site home page in the description. I will then embed that video into my blog post.

Here is an example page with a YouTube video: the video is embedded about half way down the page.

6. Please briefly share your overall strategy for finding a niche, getting traffic to your site, ranking in Google, and making money from niche sites.

Finding a Niche – I will look at my own life for ideas for niches. (eg. I will be eating a chocolate bar so I will think about the niche “chocolate”)

Punch keywords into Long Tail Pro Platinum. Set the minimum exact local searches to 100 (yup…I go that low).

I will then check the Keyword Competitiveness of almost every keyword phrase. Anything under 40 I will consider…but I am really looking for terms under 30.

My strategy is to rank for multiple keywords so I don’t need a keyword to be getting 1,000+ search per month. However, I usually want to create around 10 posts and I want the total searches to be around 5,000 search per month or more when I combine all keyword phrases.

Getting Traffic/ Ranking in Google – Create content,  create a YouTube video and wait. Then maybe do some directory submissions or blog comments to get the ball rolling. One of my niche sites I did zero link building on. It took 13 months to rank but now it gets over 6,000 visitors per month and earns me about $70/month.

Something I have been doing lately is using my existing niche sites to link to my new niche sites. Not for Google purposes (same host so Google probably won’t value it) but just to share traffic and get more traffic to my new site in the early days.

7. What link-building tips can you offer?

Unfortunately I don’t have many link building tips to offer because I don’t do much link building.

My link building strategy is very basic and will usually involve

A. Creating a YouTube video and linking to the page in the description. Then embed that YouTube video on the page
B. Pay for a fiverr gig to get my website submitted to over 50 directories
C. A few blog comments or forum comments on relevant niches

Then if I am really confident in the site I will:

D. Submit some articles to and
E. Create 1-3 Squidoo Lenses
F. Create or blogs with about 3 pages and link to my site plus other authoritative sites like wikipedia etc
G. Get a fiverr gig for some small diversified tweets, Facebook likes and G+ likes

8. How has the success from this website impacted your life?

So far…not much. It has just given me hope for a better future where I can run my own company.

Almost every dollar I will throw back into the business at the moment to try and grow it. Most of the money goes into content creation.

If I was to stop building my sites and just started cashing in on my profits then I could use the money for a variety of things:
Pay for day care
Pay for private schooling for my kids
Pay down create card debt
Fund a car
Move to part time work

9. Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to replicate your success with their own websites?

A. If you have limited time like I do (full time job, sexy wife and two kids can be very demanding) and little money (nappies can be expensive) then look for tasks that will deliver you results for the long term that you can build upon.

Writing a blog post today could continue to deliver you traffic in 3 years time. I still get about 5,000 visitors to a single blog post ( ) which I wrote about 4-5 years ago. I have migrated this blogpost through 4 different websites over that time and it continues to rank and earn me money.

B. Get Long Tail Pro Platinum – Using the Keyword Competitiveness tool in the platinum version of Long Tail Pro is the only reason I have been able to find profitable niches that I can rank for quickly. Without it I would still be fumbling around in the dark…ranking for nothing.

10. Do you have a blog or other place that people can following along with what you are doing?

If you Google “Ryan McLean” you can find me, but one of my sites is:

It’s Your Turn

I want to thank Ryan again for sharing his story!  Now, its your turn to ask any additional questions that you might have.  I’ve asked Ryan to stop by and answer your comments or questions, so I look forward to a great discussion!


Stories & Projects | 56 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

You may also like

View all




Absolutely loving these success stories! Definitely motivating me to build build build 🙂


I agree. These success stories are a nice change and actually allow you to see that others are also succeeding outside of the IM world.

Congrats on the success Ryan!


Thanks Adam,

It’s been good to finally get some runs on the board. It won’t be too much longer until I can work on it full time like Spencer.

Ben Hebert

Man… I don’t know why these guys don’t try layered links like Spencer recommended. It has been crushing it for me!


How exactly are you building layered links, Ben?

Spencer Haws

Its a link building service: .

umer hafeez

When I searched about them, I come to realize that the same discussed on and many friends ask to refrain from these kind of link building service!


Thank you for sharing the story. Two things though:

1. A 5-6 page website making a bit of money after 2 months of being launched is not a “success story.” such websites come and go in the thousands every day, they make a bit of money over the first few months and then they disappear from google. so i would refrain from drawing any conclusions based on such short-term data for such a small website, especially considering the very ‘spammy’ nature of the domain name.

2. Spencer, while I really enjoyed the first two / three success stories, I feel it’s a bit too much now. i can’t shake the feeling that you simply dont want to update your own blog (maybe lack of time? lack of motivation?) and so are using these success stories as fillers. a success story here or there is fine, but i feel it’s too much. ideally and under normal circumstances these stories should be appearing separately in a special section IN ADDITION to your regular posts, not as a substitute for them.

sorry Spencer if this offends you, it’s not my intention. i was actually going to write this comment during the last success story (the coffee maker site), but I figured i would hold my tongue for now since this can’t possibly go on forever. behold though – another success story. I just feel like I have not gotten any value at all from your blog over the past month or more.


I understand what you are saying about the domain. That’s why I was thinking of changing it if the site grew much larger.

5-6 pages of amazing content can consistently rank in Google. It’s not spam content, it’s value adding content.

I have a site that is over 12 months old and I have only just added more than 5 pages to it. I think it’s less about the amount of pages and more about the quality of the content


I agree to a certain extent with you. Although the site is young it still is earning money and for many people they consider every penny earned a success.

How the developer progresses with the site and the methods they use will determine if it will be a short term or long term success in the overall scheme of things.

Naveen Kulkarni

Hi Danielle,
What you mentioned could be true to some extent that small income sites are not really “success stories”, but there is an important point here.

Overall strategy of building niche sites starts with testing the water. A new guy always starts with 1 website, with 1 $ income of course. What really motivates him is to see and feel good that this stuff actually works. It is really easy to replicate the small success by creating many more small niche sites. Each site earning a small amount of money every month and together you can make a decent income. That;s the beauty.

Again, it’s all about learning and experimenting. There is a popular saying “Journey of thousand miles starts with a single step”. And it’s really important to know about small success stories because they are easier to relate with our own endeavors

A million dollar income story a month is really a success story but will that motivate you ? Not for long, because you will set your bar to achieve such huge income and fall short of your own expectation.

Incremental progress and keep moving are key here in life, not only in Niche sites.

By the way, my amazon associates site is has earned 17.8 $ in the 1st week of it’s launch. This motivates me to take “NEXT” steps because I can see that something good is happening. I published 13 posts and 4 dedicated pages. Wrote all content myself. Totally loving it.

My 2 scents.
I don’t intent to offend anyone. It’s all good here 🙂

Naveen Kulkarni

And for the information of all folks here, if you are building niche sites using amazon associates, make sure that you make your affiliate links as “nofollow”, else you will land in trouble sooner or later.

Keep monitoring your site health in webmaster tool. Check your site loading speed as well. Your site should load in 2 seconds (max), more than that , search results might dip down (Google considers site speed as one of the factors for ranking).

Again, keyword research is MOST important factor. Thanks to Spencer for his amazing keyword tool. I am quite happy with my decision to buy LTP.


Hey Naveen how would you make the affialte links nofollow, I know how to do it on regular links but could you give an example of an affiliate link?

Naveen Kulkarni

Grab the affiliate links. There will be starting with

Just add

Naveen Kulkarni


Ryan Kaufman

hi Danielle,

I feel you on the 2nd point as well

I noticed that most of these guys featured in the last month here have a completely different niche site model

1. They focus on keyword research , just like Spencer does, and go for low competing key terms

2. They focus on writing (rarely outsourcing) quality content

3. They build links manually, and not use a service to automate the process.

The last two options should be fully if not semi-outsourced. No wonder these guys are making little money.

Links play a huge role in getting traffic and making $. That’s why Spencer’s emphasizing, but just a few have ears to hear, or maybe they’re too afraid of a “link penalty” 🙂


So Danielle, have you built a site yet? If not, don’t you think it’s about time you did? Spencer has already provided all the information anyone needs to get started, so if you haven’t done so yet, I suspect your post here is simply an exercise in excuse making.

And by the way, there is nothing spammy about his domain name.

Goran Gligorin

Great story, Ryan!

I’m loving that you pick a main keyword, but attack it primarily with related ones. Do you find that picking low searches actually gets rid of the need for lots of competition research, as many SEOs won’t go for such low keywords?


Truthfully I hardly look at my competition at all in terms of how many links they have etc.

However, I do look at my competitions articles and try to analyse what is good about them and what I can do better. Writing killer (relevant) content has served me well and helped me rank in Google.

Chris Jensen

Great story. I really enjoy reading these as it gives me belief in the ability to replicate.
So having a Sexy wife is demanding huh ;0)
Ryan – all the hopes for continued success!!


It’s a hard life with a sexy wife 😉


“So having a Sexy wife is demanding huh ;0)”



Ryan, I am happy reading your story. Apparently, perseverance is needed to build the site so make money. Of course, in addition to it’s SEO strategy. I’m interested in how you develop your site. Thank for sharing your success story.



You’ve mentioned that you have migrated one of your more successful articles through 4 different websites over time and it continues to rank and earn you money.
Did you place the exact same version on the other sites or did you spin your own article to avoid getting penalized by google for duplicate content?


Took exact same content and copied it onto the new site.

Then took the existing permalink (from the old site) and redirected it to the new site. It doesn’t take long for Google to see you have moved your content.


I checked Ryan website and I don’t see any adsense code. How is he making money through adsense?


Which website are you talking about? My personal website doesn’t have adsense, the rest of them do.


I am talking about this website:

I don’t see the ads anywhere. If there are you have hidden them very well :))

Mr Money Design

I’m absolutely loving the Success Story series! As someone who only started dabbling seriously in niche sites about 7 months ago, there are a lot of great case studies to learn from here.

When I first started coming to Niche Pursuits, I gained a ton of knowledge about how to build sites and get them to rank. But like a lot of people do when they are trying to learn from the masters, I started to fall into that trap of believing there is only one way to do it.

The Success Story series has been a wealth of value because it is showing me that there is more than one way to create an income. I like seeing the diversity of people who are technical/non-technical, build a lot of links vs build almost no links, etc. It gives me hope that I can use a number of different strategies and still reach my goal.


Soft Sell for Long Tail Pro. Of course backlinks is a major step. Your site got outranked in 24 hours because he had a far more superior backlink profile Spencer! Do not fool readers thinking keyword research is the only step that they should consider.

Spencer Haws

Hey John – I didn’t write this post – Ryan did.


Great story Ryan!
How did you find a good fiverr gig for the directories? I’ve tried some and they’ve been pretty much crappy, some SEO related and pagerank 0 directories only…


I don’t know if I was a good gig or not truthfully.

I got a full report about which directories approved or rejected the submission. I never bothered to double check them though.

I don’t use this tactic much at all

Shon Thriva

Love reading these stories provide great inspiration for me on my journey.

Follow my blog!


What does he mean by: G. Get a fiverr gig for some small diversified tweets, Facebook likes and G+ likes

In the part were he says : Pay for a fiverr gig to get my website submitted to over directories. I went on fiverr that there are guys offering over 1500 directories, are these B.S. or is 50 directories offers to be trusted more?


Hey Bill,

I don’t really do it much and I don’t even know if it’s worth it. I pay for a 50 directories submission and I get a report saying which directories I have been approved in.

Not exactly high quality so I don’t know the value. Just wanted a bit of diversification.


Inspiring one ! Keyword research plays a great role in the success of a blog/website …Though i’ve been blogging for nearly 2 months , i came to know about this logic just 3-4 days ago [email protected] :- As mentioned in the post , you own around 9 blogs …which one is your favorite and how much time in a day you dedicate to blogging?



Please DO NOT stop with the success story series. While some might consider these to be very small wins, these stories are inspiring and thought provoking – regarding the kinds of niches that are out there. I hope you will post these stories in addition to your regular posts as well.


I agree, I am a big fan of each persons story and a learn a little from each. Keep it going Spencer

Spencer Haws

Yep, I have plans to continue adding more success stories. Thanks!

Arwin Adriano

Definitely another inspiring story. I am sure each and everyone of us started from scratch and I think it’ll be a long road for everyone but nevertheless what is important here is that we decided to make our first step.


Actually these stories are a breathe of fresh air especially when you read from other blogs telling you how they make 6 figure sums but never actually tell you how to do it without selling you a product!

Great to see the average online marketer and how much they make.

Shaun Baird

I’m doing some keyword research at the mo with longtail pro platinum, and am saving keywords that have exact searches of just 30 or so a month – am I going too low? So far Ive identified over 50 to 100 for each of the 10 sites I am planning.

The keywords are not all “buying” keywords, ie “buy” or “best”, so again, is this wrong? I’m just trying to drive the traffic


An old website I created targets no buying keywords. In fact it targets keywords with almost no adsense competition at all (a big no no).

However, it still makes almost $100/month.

Some of the article I write are targeting searches with around 100 Exact Match Searches per month and they get thousands of visits from long tail keywords.

It’s up to you how much time you have and what ROI you expect from each article or website

Spencer Haws

Its up to you how low you want to go. 30 a month won’t bring in much traffic, but if you have LOTS of content, it all adds up.


I’m a fan of the success stories as well! I’d like to see more of these that note early failures–it’s refreshing to see people try, try, and try again


Ryan, great job man, inspiring!

Spencer, As for these success stories keep ’em coming! I find them extremely inspiring and love seeing the “small” victories and how others are doing it.

Danielle … you’re definitely entitled to your opinions but you’re opinion of what makes a success story is just that … “you’re opinion.

1. A 5-6 page website making a bit of money after 2 months of being launched is not a “success story.” – to somebody who has never built a site or earned money online this is a huge success!!

Good luck Ryan and keep it up Spencer.


Hello Dave.

It is just an opinion, but it is an educated one, let me explain.

First of all, I’d like to believe that people coming here (to NichePursuits) are looking for creating a stable, reliable, long-term passive income. What I’m saying is that the model Ryan has presented is NOT one that meets these criteria (despite him personally having had success with it so far).

I’ll give you an extreme example. What if someone were to come here, say that they created a 1-page website with extremely poor content and doing nothing but stuffing keywords, then they bombarded the internet with thousands of links using automated link-builing software, and managed to rank #1 for a keyword and make $500 in a month. Is that a success story?

Again, this is an extreme example and obviously not what Ryan did. What I’m saying here is that just because a project earned money in the short term does not make it a “success story,” because a success story by definition, at least to me, is something that is worth emulating and re-creating.

And in my opinion Ryan’s approach is definitely not worth emulating. He created a very small website, one where the front page is pretty much nothing but a list of audio books (not even a review of what those audio books are about or any sort of extra information). He even mentions in the comments that he’s not too interested about doing proper competition analysis as he finds it’s enough to just build a good website and not worry at all about building links even.

Has it worked for Ryan? So far, it seems to be working. But I absolutely don’t think the advice he is giving is sound nor that it should be replicated by those out there who are looking to create a stable, long-term profiting passive online BUSINESS.

So while Ryan’s story is inspiring if you consider the mere fact of simply making some money online inspiring, I believe it to be the “dangerous” kind of inspiring, as it inspires people to do the wrong things.

And yes, the above is just my opinion – no need to point that out as anything someone says is just an opinion unless it can be scientifically proven (which in this case is definitely not the case).


Yes actually, a newly created site that earns $500 a month WOULD be a success story, whether it’s a crappy site or not. It may be a short-lived success, but a success nonetheless. And the reality is when it comes to relying on search engine traffic, pretty much all successes are short-lived.

Now would I do things the way Ryan does them? No. $70 a month with 6,000 monthly visitors is horrible. I have ecommerce sites approaching 6 figure revenues with that kind of traffic and Adsense sites that make $500-$1,000 a month. But these numbers don’t make Ryan’s achievements any less successful. And considering probably 90% of people who try to make money online never make a dime, it’s hard to argue that his $400-$1,000 month earnings(almost all profit I suspect) don’t qualify as a success.


I guess what I was getting at is this part of your comment:

“Now would I do things the way Ryan does them? No. $70 a month with 6,000 monthly visitors is horrible. ”

That was exactly the point I was trying to make. Whether it qualifies as a success story or not is irrelevant I suppose – just semantics.

And I disagree with all search engine traffic being short-lived. If we’re talking just one site then yes. But if you have 10 or 20 great ones, then you have just as much chance of some of your sites plummeting in the rankings, as you do of some of your sites sky-rocketing. It works both ways, though people mostly comment publicly when they are facing something bad, so it might give the impression that the only thing that’s happening is people losing their rankings, when in fact for every person that lost rankings for one reason or another, there’s another person who gained rankings (that’s just the way it works). If you have enough solid sites, you’ll cover both ends of the spectrum.


What I like about success stories from different people is that there is a diversity of ideas and hope for the little man.A lot of gurus are gurus because they steal ideas from the small man and scale/enhance those small successes.



I think Spencer should have just called these “Case Studies” rather than “Success Stories”. Maybe that would have put things in perspective 🙂


I personally love the success stories. They show what’s possible and I learn a lot from all the techniques each person uses. All slightly different but interesting and useful. Keep it up 🙂

Denis Gonzalez

I like these success stories. Not only because they are a good way of inspiring others, but also because comments are valuable, such as Danielle’s. She is trying to make a valid point and we all learn about it in the way.


I’m still pretty new to the concept of Affiliate Marketing, but I wanted to ask some of you on your thoughts about something.

I’m doing pretty good on ranking for my primary keyword, but the secondary keywords are still not ranking nearly as well. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to do about this or is it something that I should just leave alone? My secondary keywords could possibly generate a lot of additional traffic if I can rank them. They are all pretty low competition as well.

Smart Children

Good post. Although not much useful information, it’s still good to hear from marketers who had been working from 2006 till now.

Hope more to come!


Recent Posts

View all