How to Build a Long Term Online Business

By Spencer Haws |

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my business lately.  The last couple of weeks have been interesting as I decided to no longer use PBNs and I discussed why I made that decision on my last podcast.

I’ve also been getting a lot of questions that go something like, “Well, if you are not using PBNs…how are you getting links?”  First of all, I think this is the wrong question to be asking.  But if you must know about link building, I always recommend Jon Cooper as the link building expert.  I had him on my podcast, and I’ve reviewed his link building guide.

In fact, he lists something like over 150 strategies for building links on this massive list here…and none of those strategies involve PBNs.  So, you have tons of options for link building if that’s what you want to do.

However, the better question in my opinion to be asking is, “How can I build a long term online business that doesn’t rely on Google so much?”

This is a question that I’ve been asking and acting upon for the past 4 years or so.  I’ll share my story in relation to this question below and discuss how my business has evolved because of it.

I Had Another Blog

I have been blogging since the beginning of 2010.  However, what many of you may not know is that I actually had a blog for about a year before I ever started  I hesitate to even link to my old blog because all of the advice is outdated; however, my original blog was called

My old blog was all about building churn and burn Adsense sites using whatever tactic I could to rank in google.  Again, this was back in 2010.  I did very well and was making about $15k/month from my Adsense sites by mid-2011, and of course quit my job about the same time.

However, I was always asking myself, “Is this business really going to last?”  When I was honest with myself, I always knew the answer was no.  I needed to form a long term business that didn’t rely on Google.

As a direct result of that question and answer, I decided to create a new blog in 2011 that discussed small business IDEAS rather than just small churn and burn websites.  In fact, I wrote this page on Purpose of this Blog on Feb. 24th, 2011.

I basically created so I could stop ONLY discussing small niche sites and start discussing and trying other small business ideas.  I kept the word, “niche” in my new domain as a hat tip to my old blog and business; but it truly is meant to reference niche businesses not niche websites.

So, in early 2011 I started doing everything I could to diversify my business away from Google in case of something disastrous happening to my niche sites.  As a result, I built Long Tail Pro in early 2011, an iPhone app shortly thereafter, a WordPress theme, a WordPress plugin, a software development firm recently, and many other niche businesses.

As a result of building multiple businesses outside of Google traffic, my overall income is still doing very well despite many of my niche sites getting hit with a penalty recently.  Yes, I lost $5k/month in revenue; but I also have a few other revenue streams that were not impacted.

I’ve built a long term business that no longer relies solely on traffic from Google.

I’ve always felt the pull from my audience to write more and more about small niche sites, and so that’s why there is so much content on that subject.  But the original idea as you can see from this early about page, was really to try out OTHER business ideas.

I hope to get back to my roots of this blog, and will begin blogging again more about long term businesses that are not solely SEO type businesses.

The Basics of a Long Term Business

One of the things that you learn pretty quickly when building Adsense or Amazon websites is that your customer clicks an ad and is gone forever from your website.  This is a terrible way to build a long term business.

So, after all of my thinking and actually running a business for the past few years, the answer to “How do you build a long term online business?”…is actually fairly simple.

Build an audience and offer solutions to that audience.

That really is it.

Another way to think of this is specifically for an online business: Build an email list and sell products to that email list.  Although, I agree that sounds a bit more salesy.

Once you have built a loyal readership/user base/fanbase, you can continue to offer products and solutions to that audience hopefully for many years to come.

Sometimes the product creation comes first, but sometimes the audience building comes first.  You can do it either way.

For example, Apple has been so successful for so many years because its user-base is so loyal.  Apple can continue to come out with new products (like new iPhones, iPads, iWatch, or anything) and because it has such a large user-base, it will continue to be successful.

But Apple is so far removed from anything you or I could create, so lets take a step back and think about how this happens on a small scale.

A great online example is Pat Flynn of  Back in 2008, he had no readers and no one on an email list.  However, now he has probably close to 100k people on his email list and makes a tremendous amount of money each month.

He built his readership through great content, networking, and effort.  He did real marketing to build his personal brand.

He’s built a long term business, which I think he’s just barely tapped into yet.  Even if all his affiliate commissions from Bluehost, Long Tail Pro ( 🙂 ), and other places stopped…he still has the kernels of a huge business on his hands.  All he has to do is create his own product that offers a solution to the problem of his audience, and he’s in business…big time.

He’s just begun to do this with his Smart Podcast Player, and I’m sure he’ll have other great products in the future.

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You can use this formula to build a long term business in any market: Build an Audience (email list) and Offer Solutions (products) to that Audience.

Once you have an email list, you can sell affiliate products or your own products…and you can do it over an over again (within reason).

This is what Ryan Deiss does in all of his businesses; including that makes over $1 million per MONTH!  Ryan Deiss is someone that knows how to build online businesses and scale them.  His primary focus is building emails lists and selling products to those people.

So, while there is nothing wrong with building small niche sites…and its certainly alot of fun; if you are interested in building a long term business, you need a different approach.

And I believe that approach boiled down to its simplest form is: Build an audience and offer solutions to that audience.

Our Authority Site Project

In relation to this desire to build more long term businesses, Perrin and I started an authority site almost 3 months ago.  We have written just briefly about this new project here and here, and have discussed it in a couple of podcasts here and here.

The purpose of this project was for Perrin and I to put our time and effort into a site that we felt like could pay huge dividends for many years to come; instead of just working on sites that might only earn well for a shorter period of time.

Despite the fact that I’ve built an email list in other markets, this is a new market and a new niche for Perrin and I.  We have a lot to learn about building an email list in this niche overall the best marketing strategies in this market.

I’ll be sharing much more about this project down the road, but we plan on tapping into all sources of traffic for our site: Google/Yahoo News, Social Media, SEO (of course), paid traffic, and much more.  In fact, another source of both traffic and revenue is going to be Kindle ebooks.

We are just about done with our first ebook, and will likely be releasing it to the world in the next few weeks.  We hope that this helps us build an email list as people buy and discover us; but will be a source of revenue as well.  We plan to do multiple Kindle books each year.

We’ve been dabbling around with Facebook ads, but haven’t found any huge success with it just yet…we’ll keep trying.

However, the strategy for this site is exactly as we explained above: We are building an audience of readers and email subscribers and then we will offer our own products and other affiliate products down the road.

Because we will eventually own several products in the niche our profit margins will be much higher.  And as we garner traffic from many sources and not just natural search engine traffic through Google, we can feel more confident in the long term success of our business if one traffic source should go away.

Build Your Own Product

I know when I first got started online; part of the draw of affiliate marketing was the fact that you never had to do any customer service…the income was more hands off.  However, my mindset has shifted a bit since then.

Yes, owning your own product is more work…but it’s worth it!

I created Long Tail Pro over 3 years ago, and its not easy to keep the product updated and stay on top of the customer service.  It’s caused some headaches for sure.  However, after having a business that only generates income from Adsense/niche affiliate sites and one that is a product I sell…owning your own product is the way to go.

One big benefit of owning your own product is that others/websites are more likely to talk about you and send you traffic.  I certainly send alot of referral traffic to from, but MOST of the traffic coming to is from other sources.

The traffic to comes from many sources: Referral, Direct, Organic, and Social.  Referral is the largest source of traffic (just barely), and is the highest trafficked referral source.  However, still only accounts for 6% of the overall traffic.

The point is that even though I was able to give Long Tail Pro a nice jump start with because I have a good sized audience here; I get most of my traffic from other places because I’ve built a great product.  Other blogs, affiliates, and users do a lot of my marketing for me…because I own the product.

So, my effort is amplified by enormous magnitudes because I own the product itself.  This doesn’t happen when you are an affiliate.  Marketing and sales is so much easier when you own the product (versus being an affiliate).

So, take it from me, in order to build a long term online business, you really should create and sell your own product.

And if you’ve built up an audience in your niche, you’ll have potential buyers ready and waiting…and eventually THANKING you for creating something that solves their problems.

Are you ready to build a long term online business?

Your Thoughts

These are the kinds of topics that I will be focusing on much more around here: how to build businesses that can stand the test of time, how to build products, how to build on audience, online marketing tactics, and so much more.  I still think a small affiliate site can be an okay starting point; however, I would recommend that you take that small affiliate site and grow it into a true business over time by building an audience and selling a product or two.

When it comes down to it, there has always been a good, better, and best way to build websites; I’m simply ready to only focus on the best strategies for long term success.  I’ll be diving into these strategies much more in the near future.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please feel free to leave a comment or two…join the discussion!

Blogging & Niche Websites | 88 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.

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Nitin Singh

Hey Spencer Haws,

That’s really great that you were mainly focused on building your business. That point of making 15k$+ with Adsense using Niche site amazed me. I am only making 700-800$ with adsense with niche sites(Event niche) 🙂

And Yeah, Many people say to me also, now PBN are baneed what strategies to follow(my competitors, whom I outranked when this update arrived). They don’t know other link building strategies. Isn’t it Funny? What you think?

Building our own product is really a good thing, and we can just use it as a affiliate system but what we are getting is 100% commission but some clients load too 🙁 that really annoys.

Thanks for writing!
~Nitin Singh


Good stuff Spencer! I love the approach of going back to the basics!


Insightful post Spencer.

I’ve been along for the ride seeing your start, crashes, burns and always rising. For this I commend you.

Ever since the start of these updates and banning etc, BMR days and before, something resonated with me from both James Schramko and MJ Demarco.

The concept of owning your own racecourse or owning your own platform as you mentioned you’re doing with Longtail Pro etc. Building a real business and becoming less dependent on Google traffic, social platforms and the like.

I look forward to your building out your authority site and the lessons that will come of that. Building a real platform “the right way.”

I’ve seen some friends toil for 18 months on their authority site and it’s paid off well for them.

Here’s to more success!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Trends for following along through the years!


I think it’s a great direction for Niche Pursuits, and like you said…it’s basically what you intended from the start by switching from the old blog to NP.

I am definitely looking forward to your new material.

I was on the verge of going for broke with niche sites and was looking at creating up to 100 of them (not thin, micro ones, but still…).

But after the past couple posts of yours, I’m rethinking that idea. It’s hard, because this month has been a record month for two of my four current niche sites, and it’s tempting to focus on building out more sites like those. But like you say, it’s not a long-term business.

So I’m looking at my strengths and skills and trying to come up with a real business that won’t crumble away to nothing with the next Google update.

I like to draw, so I’m going with that. Time to resurrect my childhood dream of being a cartoonist. It’s a tough time for cartoonists — with newspapers dying a slow death — but everybody loves a good cartoon, so there will always be opportunities for savvy entrepreneurial cartoonists.

Anyways, I’m glad you are bouncing back strong from the PBN hit. Me, I’d still be sulking and laying in bed for a few more weeks if I had lost $5k in revenue haha.


Spencer Haws

Here’s a guy from shark tank that built a business from his drawings: Might have to think outside the box a bit to build your cartoonist business, but its possible.


Thanks Spencer; I’ll go check that out right now…


Wow. That was interesting. I almost couldn’t believe that was a real thing. But it’s a real thing haha. Man, he’s like fiverr dude on steroids. I can’t believe he drew over 16,000 cat cartoons for $10 a pop. That’s pretty amazing.

Thank you so much for the link. Now my creative juices are flowing, and I will probably not get much sleep tonight haha.


Alistair Cochrane

This made me think of

Art/cartoons for business.

If I was trying to make money with a cartoon I might try to tie it to an industry.

Also, some people licence cartoons to include in their email newsletter.

So for example, someone like Spencer might licence an seo/online business themed cartoon to include in his emails.

If the cartoon is good it increases open rates and stops people from unsubscribing.


has some one thought of creating graphic images to be used on blogs for free, because Google Images are risky, and free stock photos are boring. I have seen some examples on


Yeah I agree that images from Google images are risky. Perin has great images on penny shaved. I’m hoping he will give us some ideas for getting good ones.


Grey, i mean sketched like photos which can be used on blogs, Affiliate site don’t use Google Images, they use product images, but not every blogger can do amazon affiliate. So, the idea is to cater for that market, the only source of images they have is Google & Pinterest, but these sources are risky. If possible, we need an application which makes standard sketches for blogs, I have seen some good examples on WIKIHOW.


Hey Philip, How about giving us a link to the art you make.


If you’re having a record month with two of your sites, then you have a REALLY EASY decision, brother.

Stop building more stuff. Just grow those two!

Don Modekali

Another cartoonist here…no, actually a childhood painter. Oh man, the dreams we had when we were kids!


Great post Spencer and for inspiration!

I 100% agree with you and i am trying to follow the same route.
I am a software developer and making in-house tools/apps for internet marketing, seo and other niches.

Will release later some of software that will be useful for people


Spencer Haws

Being a developer can really make getting a product easy! Get the marketing dialed in, and you’ll be well on your way…


Amen to this man – I don’t know how you kept up with the niche stuff for as long as you have. Personally I find it kind of boring, but I can also see how this “new” (although not entirely new because you’ve touched upon this theme many times over the years) approach will be a bit of a smack in the teeth to a non insignificant portion of your audience who simply wants to churn out dozens of sites and sit back and (hopefully) watch the money roll in.

How is that improving the world, is my question?

Looking forward to enjoying even more of the content on this blog.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Dave…for the support! Maybe part of it is just getting burned out with niche sites; I’m ready to spend my time building things that I’m proud of. Yes, some of my audience will stick “churn and burn” strategy…but I’ve moved on…glad you are still with me 🙂

Tung Tran

Totally loved this post Spencer!

I just switched to building a product business a while ago and I’m definitely interested in what you share in future posts.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Tung…love the direction you’ve been moving as well.


I welcome the idea of building a big audience and ltr sell to them the best product.

Adsense is more like a case study and a great source of start up capital. I own well developed niche sites and one of them was making $1k per month, sold it on flippa and invested in affiliate marketing, now adsense is minor, but I’m still looking forward to developing a great e-commerce viral using social media system and then after venture into mobile social e-commerce….It is not good and safe to depend on Google. Actually I have tested Amazon Affiliate system, on every 30 people i take to amazon, I make a sale, yet non of those 30 visitors on my site click on Adsense Ads. (WHY?) …..because Adsense shows poor ads.


I see authority case studies everywhere now seems as if internet marketers are changing. Either way it is the right way to go, I don’t see how someone could feel stable building a business based on google and no matter how secretive they think they are being google will find out eventually.

People with Pbns are just saying they need to be hidden but that creates a pattern of websites that have no whosis, don’t have google webmaster tools. Google could say tomorrow that no website will get a ranking unless it is in GWT what then lol.

I wish you good luck on your authority site, it will be fun to follow along.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Ash.

David Hawk

R.I.P to Niche Pursuits. Enjoyed the niche content while it lasted. Pretty weird how you say you have been preaching against PBN’s yet you are cofounder in public network. Made a lot of money from PBN’s. All your niche sites that are making money have links from PBN’s and now your against niche sites and PBN’s. Crazy to me how one who was built with these methods can turn there back on them so quickly. SEO is a cat mouse game with Google. Always will be. White Hat or Black. SEO is a job to make money the end!!


David….we learn from our mistakes, I’m sure he new that it was wrong, that is why he had a back up plan. His not gone, fighters never ls

Spencer Haws

I’m still doing SEO; I’ve just moved on to methods that work even better for the long run.


Great article Spencer,
one thing I realized recently was that although the niche/adsense/grey hat sites might make just as much if not more money than an awesome legit blog/online business, they simply can’t be sold for the same amount because they kind of exist in a loophole.

I’m growing my online businesses with the intention of being able to sell them for sh** loads in the future.

Most of us don’t take that into account when we see the money in the short term.

Looking forward to more article like this and the strategies you’re using for your new authority site


Spencer Haws

Thanks Will…and I agree that a larger business can sell for higher multiples than a smaller website.

Stuart Walker

From what I have observed at EmpireFlippers the niche affiliate sites that rely on Google traffic tend to sell quickly and easily.

The premium sites not so quickly or easily.

Most people buying, at least in that market place, probably want sites that don’t take up a lot of their time or effort and bring in passive income.

Buying a big authority site / blog requires a lot more manual work (content creation mainly) than a small niche site.

Maybe in other market places it’s different but I’m not too familiar with any of them or buying and selling sites.

Spencer Haws

Yes, they sell quickly and easily. But larger properties might take longer to sell, but they can sell for many times ANNUAL earnings, rather than just 20x monthly earnings. For example, a site the size of would sell for much more than 20x monthly earnings.


I have just subscribed to NP because of this article. Looking forward to your new strategies for long term success which I’m a fan and I think it’s a great move.

You used to suggest me to write to earn quick money but I cannot write, however your story inspired me and so I tried niche site. Now the new strategies are something very interesting. Hope to follow along and be able to grab some useful info for myself. Thanks.

All the best Spencer 🙂


Spencer Haws

Thanks Chutima!

Senior Tycoon

Great article and kudos to you for addressing the G penalty in such a postive way. Knowing the amount of effort that I’m putting in to my site, I can’t imagine how you guys kept up the energy required for your niche sites.
Here’s to your continued good fortune.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Senior!


I totally understand the way your going but I have always found your site really interesting for the fact you did develop small sites from scratch and provided info for people just starting out or providing results on what was working.

As much as I love smartpassiveincome pat has developed into brand and has kind of lost that touch of magic he had when he started for me.

just my thoughts. Keep up the great info

cheers Tom.

Spencer Haws

I’m still providing the same information that is actionable for people starting out; I’ll just be diving into real marketing a bit more, rather than simply trying to game google.


I’m really excited about your decision not to use PBNs or expired domains anymore, Spencer. Especially since gaming Google is not a pretty good business strategy.

In the long run Google will always win.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Dan…I’m excited as well.

Aurelius Tjin

I agree 100% with you Spencer. Indeed building a long-term business requires building your brand and strategizing ways on diversifying your business rather than solely relying on one income source.

Some would still pursue that churn and burn method to make some quick cash but morally, I would not even feel good doing that.

A product will not only make you in complete control over it, but you’ll also keep 100% of the profit.

List building is essential and has always been, it’s just sad that some people don’t want to nurture it (good for us guys who do).

Ultimately, if you want to be in this business for the long haul, then you’ve got to look at an online business as a real business, something that I always advise my readers.

Thanks for making this point nice and clear to your readers.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Aurelius…I agree that its about building a real business.


Hey Spencer,

I totally applaud what your trying to do and first off I love the Niche Pursuits blog. My only question is will you still be posting things that relative newbies like myself can follow?

One of the reasons I read and follow your blog, as well as Pat Flynn & Hayden is because you put out actionable content that newbies like me can implement to get started making our first money online.

I know the big PBN slap has hurt a lot of people these last few weeks but does that mean you will be focusing on stuff that little people like me can no longer follow due to lack of funds / experience / knowhow?

Spencer Haws

Yes, I will definitely still be posting info that newbies can follow.


Thanks for the post Spencer, I always enjoy reading your blog.

I was wondering for list building – is there a free email service provider that anyone could recommend?




Hey Derek,

have you tried mailchimp? They offer free up to a certain number of subscribers.


I know some people who have had a huge success with their website. Many employees, venture capital funding.

They use MailChimp for their email list.

Spencer Haws

Yes, I’ve heard mailchimp has a free plan. I think there are other free plans out there as well; but I’ve always gone with something like Aweber…starts at like 10 or $20/mth.


Thank you Spencer. Your thoughts about long term online business really open my mind and currently I’m helping my friend with his wp themes business, beside focus with my own Adsense sites.

Now, I get more spirit to start focusing the WP themes project with my friend. The hard thing from your story I think is to build loyal audiences. 😀

Spencer Haws

Sounds great!


Hey Spencer,

Totally agree with the way your business is headed. I know a blogger who used outsourced articles for $5-20 to build a $800,000 yearly blog in two years and now does $2,000,000 yearly all through the same $5-20 articles.

Spencer Haws

Wow, impressive!

Stuart Walker

Hey Parv,

Can you share this blog?

I’d love to check it out and even better do a case study about it on my blog.

I do case studies on interesting and profitable sites – have done and so far and got many more planned.



Best of luck in your future businesses, but this sounds like an RIP for how this site covers what everyone is here to read about — *niche* websites. There is certainly no problem in pivoting your business, but it sounds like you’re saying niche sites are dead. Which is fine.

People love talking about authority sites now, and how it’s the way to go. And that may — may — work for people who have 1-2 YEARS and a massive budget. But you can’t build an “authority” site around the best electric shaver, or the best adjustable dumbbells, or the best electric toothbrush.

I’m curious what this means for Long Tail Pro? That software is basically built on the idea of targeting keywords like the ones above, and building niche sites around them. I don’t need LTP to tell me that building an “authority” site around finance is a good idea, you know?

Anyway, I’d be curious to know when you guys are going to make your authority site public, so that we can follow along? That’s always been the best part of this site, following along with the case studies.

Spencer Haws

I’m not saying niche sites are dead. They are alive and well. If you haven’t read my article about how I view niche sites, please do so here:

The process is almost exactly the same for building a small niche site vs. a large niche site/authority site. You might start by targeting “best electric shaver”, but as you find success are start making money, you grow the site. So, what starts as a 15 page site, eventually grows into hundreds or thousands of articles. This is EXACTLY what Perrin has done for; its quite a large site now.

All I’m saying is start small and grow your sites…instead of just keep starting dozens of small sites. You’ll find it much easier to attract traffic, links, and an audience as you work on your site over time.

Finally, this actually means I’ll be using Long Tail Pro more than before. My larger sites get so much more content; and you should be doing keyword research on long tail pro for every single article you produce. You don’t just pick a niche like “finance” and then never do keyword research again…you do keyword research almost every time you write an article…and hopefully it will be many hundreds or thousands over time. The only time the content on your site might not have as much keyword research attached to it, is when you try to produce something more shareable/viral…or are simply answering readers questions.

We may make the authority site public down the road. Thanks for following along Mike!

Stuart Walker

Personally I do pretty much no keyword research.

I either write topics on common problems my audience have (by asking them / looking for commonly asked questions on relevant forums).

Look for related questions on similar topics (like say niche research for example) and bundle them together into an ‘ultimate guide’ type post.

Or source out content that’s already heavily linked or shared in my niche (BuzzSumo or OSE tell you this) and create something bigger and better then do manual outreach to get shares and links from people who’ve already linked / shared the original.

Occasionally after I’ve written the post I might see if there’s some related keywords I can sprinkle in but I don’t go out of my way to look for low competition keywords.

Coincidentally I rank really well for loads of keywords and Google is my biggest source of traffic.

Maybe if I spent more time on finding easy to rank keywords I could get even more G traffic but I like my posts to flow naturally and read well for my audience and often these keywords just aren’t natural sounding or don’t fit.


Thanks Mike 🙂

First, niche sites certainly are not dead. We still own niche sites that are doing well, and we know many more people with many more sites that are doing even better.

I personally developed a smaller niche site that I slowly grew into a more authority site, which is what I’d recommend.

Secondly, Long Tail Pro is not a niche-site-only tool at all.

We leaned very, VERY heavily on LTP for our new authority site. Before we even launched we’d found almost 1,000 keywords! Those don’t come from a keyword fairy, my friend. The research is still very much needed.

We’ll be writing a lot about our authority site, including all the tactics, traffic, income, etc. that you’re used to. And if it makes sense, we’ll make it public at some point; we’re still discussing that. Thanks for asking. 🙂

John Shea

I have been thinking about this same thing a lot lately. I actually decided to transform an old niche site into my large focus for online marketing.

I do eCommerce full time so I turned my niche site into a part time eCommerce site. I’ve registered my own LLC and I opened an account on Amazon to start selling clothing.

I figure with a model like this I have the capability to build something really big with a full staff if I chose to over time.

Spencer Haws

Awesome…best of luck John!


You basically have 3 traffic sources in the large:

1. organic
2. paid
3. referred

Building multiple sites depending on organic traffic (mainly Google) doesn’t help solve the problem.

Email marketing itself doesn’t solve the problem — you have to either buy lists or get people onto your list via some traffic acquisition strategy.

Obviously within each traffic source there are many options — Google, Bing, etc. on organic; Adwords, Facebook, Bing Ads, various CPV networks, media buys etc. for paid.

Referred traffic is the holy grail for blogs and true authority sites. If you can get a loyal visitor/subscriber base that shares your content then you truly aren’t at Google’s whim. But obviously this takes work and time.

Spencer Haws


Joey Augustin

Thanks for being so open and honest, Spencer. While you might be shifting focus a bit, your work ethic will always bring you success, and I’ll still enjoy reading about whatever kind of pursuits you decide to take on.


Spencer Haws

Awesome…thanks Joey!

Oloyede Jamiu

Hey Spenser,

Thank you for the update.

When did you start ?, it seems am just hearing about it today.

I wish you success in your business decisions.

I’m happy to be part of your blog community.

Oloyede Jamiu

Spencer Haws

We started welcome splash over 2 years ago.

Stuart Walker

Great post Spencer.

This is something I’ve been telling my audience since I created NicheHacks about 9 months ago.

Build long term, sustainable, businesses that aren’t reliant on Google or any other source you have no control over

And build an email list from day 1 as it will be your biggest and most profitable asset.

Sure go niche but niche marketing doesn’t have to mean 5 page single product review site that is reliant on Google traffic

Build something that can be expanded and grown, has multiple traffic sources, lot of potential to bring in visitors, lots of products on sale and more being released daily, a huge selection of blogs, forums and so on you can draw traffic from and network with.

Otherwise you are limiting yourself.

You might build a small niche review site, spend 6 months and few hundred bucks trying to rank it, only for it to never rank – there’s no guarantee.

Or it ranks for 1 months and G brings out an algorithm update and wipes it out.

In that 6 months you could have built a blog that’s already got a decent following and email list and be generating income that isn’t at risk from Google.

Dave Schneider wrote a good post a while back about the limited thinking many niche marketers have and how to think big with niche sites…

Although I disagree slightly with what you’ve written here…

“Build an audience and offer solutions to that audience.”

I think it’s best to identify a problem or a group of people with a problem / set of problems.

Then work out the solution.

Then figure out where that audience already hangs out online and leverage that to build your own audience.

Identifying problems and offering solutions is the basics of marketing / niche marketing / online marketing / affiliate marketing.

As you say it really is that simple but to try and build the audience first and then work out solutions to problems is riskier IMO as you don’t want to find out down the line there aren’t any problems (though there usually always is)

When anyone asks me for advice on how to make money online I always tell them “find problems and offer solutions”

But I’m not sure many people listen – most want to believe it’s just about chucking some content up on the net with affiliate links in it and watch the commission roll in.

Working out problems and finding the solutions must seem like hard work or something?

Another thing I’d like to highlight is that Niche CAN be authority.

A niche is really just a specific topic so if you have an authority site on a specific topic you’re a niche authority site.

Again just boils down to this commonly believed myth that niche marketing is a 5-10 page product review site.

SurvivalLife is a prime example of this. It’s niche is Survivalist / preppers and it’s the #1 site in it’s niche – a niche authority site.

I really like their business model too – outsource content to those who have the knowledge and the following already to leverage other peoples traffic sources.

Works extremely well for them.

I wrote a detailed case study on SurvivalLife, why they are so successful, what they do well, analyzed their business model and how you can emulate them in any niche.

I think you and your audience might find it useful…

Great post Spencer and I hope people take notice of it.

It’s no coincidence that most of the big name niche site builders, like yourself and Pat Flynn for example, also have other income streams and real businesses along side the niche sites.

Good luck going forward with your businesses and I look forward to the new content.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Stuart…I agree. I also agree that many times you need to start with the problem, I was trying to get at that point when I wrote this: “Sometimes the product creation comes first, but sometimes the audience building comes first. You can do it either way.” Meaning you can first find the problem and solution (i.e. product), then build your audience second. Either way can work.

We are on the same page though on the long term approach.

Stuart Walker

I’m with you. Cheers for the reply.


I agree. It doesn’t make sense to build lots of small sites.

Once you have one that works, making a new one is starting from scratch.

Instead, if you add a new section to an existing site, you take advantage of the links and trust you already have, so your new content will rank faster and bring in new revenue faster.

Meanwhile, your existing site benefits from the new content, links and visitors produced by the new section,

This is a powerful SEO trick that produces amazing results. And no Google penalties because it’s white hat. You’re just adding a new section to your site.

Want to trick Google? Then step onto their chessboard. The best SEOs know all the tricks and they practice their kung fu artistry White Hat Style.


100% ready! I started a niche site a few months back, I’m considering building it out to something more powerful. Testing the waters.


Nice post Spencer. I second the approach of audience first, product later.




I like the fact that you like to build a business that is not depended on google. I think we all should try to do the same in the long run. Atleast, google won’t be able to wipe out our hard work.
Here is one affiliate site that makes 10K/month and is not depended on google.


Totally great – and you’ve got me keeping as one of my few marketing blogs that I will keep reading, going forwards.

This is even more in line with where I am at: wanting to work out how best to sell my product online.

So, for some of your audience, you’ve given them all the more reason to stay around! 🙂

Darren Boland


Thanks for that post… I clicked through and read the post about Survival Life.. Now thats a interesting read.

I own a few small niche product sites, That I am looking at building out further… It makes more sense as a business Model, trying to sell something then just offering Bland rehashed information. and hoping someone likes what your saying


Hi Spencer,

What happened to your facebook ads until you say you did not find a huge success of it?

From what I have learned and done.

Will take considerable time to test all elements ranging from the geo, gender, to the lander (headline, cta, etc).

And if one decide to dive in the hottest market areas and niche or even to try to conquer the entire world, man it will take more money and more time to tame such lion.

Like the idea behind low competition keyword

Since I`m new in paid traffic, I play in low competition market areas first.

I have to spend 3 or maybe 4 months to come up with the right ads setting and lander.

Our first attempt in paid traffic isn`t about making money but it`s about collecting data so we can build a page that convert. Stuff like Kissmetric and CPVlab do help a lot.

So it will be a bit unfair if we measure our first attempt on paid traffic with how much money we can get.

I found paid traffic is more fun since I don`t have to worry anymore about Matt Cuts new animals.

There is a rumor that say there will be no more penguin or panda.

Currently Matt Cuts is very busy raising a gorilla and a whale and will release it soon. Holly shit…that`s big 😀

Spencer Haws

We haven’t given up on paid traffic, just still testing.

Emmett Moore

I have spent at least 5k on expired domains. And that is not even counting the time and articles that I wrote. Here is the thing, I dont really know what the ROI is, because I dont really know how much they effected my keywords. I have some suspicions. But truthfully, I dont really know.

Here is what I do know. I also have some niche sites and have done absolutely zero linking building. Instead I 100% focused on content. Not just any content, I focused on the long tail that Google gave me easy natural rankings. When I started hammering those long tails, then I got rewarded with money keywords. Its strange really.

Anyway, I watched what happened to Perrins site on SemRush and that scared the crap out of me. The trend line on PennyShaved was incredible, and now has ZERO traffic. All of that hard work down the toilet. Its a great site with tons of cool articles that you cannot find anywhere, and now its just a pile of dog crap. Amazing.

Hieu Luong

I completely agree with your opinion. I’ve only just begun online business way and the road ahead is not so easy. But I believe in the beautiful future because I always have masters like you by my side. I understand that build a long term online business is not easy way at first, but that is the safest course to to exist.

I will try build my own business in a long term from the beginning.
Thank you so much for your wonderful articles. Wish you have good health and work well to help further to the public. 🙂

Spencer Haws


Nick Loper

This one hits home for me in a lot of ways. If you rely on one source of traffic or one source of income, your livelihood is inherently risky, whether that’s a niche site, a business, or even your day job.

I think building a sustainable long-term asset is what we’re all after, something that gives us the freedom to spend our time how we choose and not have to worry about how we’ll pay the rent/mortgage next month.

The truth is every time I’ve tried to find a “shortcut,” maybe it works for a while but eventually it dries up or crashes and burns. The common denominator of every successful project I’ve had is putting in the effort and the work and the “sweat equity.”

Spencer Haws

I agree Nick…”shortcuts” are always appealing…but the ventures that require more effort tend to be the ones that pay off the most for myself as well.


I’ve only been reading your blog for the last year and I’ve learned more from it for free than from the paid training.

My question is can you outsource all the writing for an authority site and still be successful? I have a fulltime job and just can’t seem to get the writing done. I’ve got LTP so I know I’m headed in the correct direction but lack time not so much the money.

Thanks for writing such a great blog.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Rick…glad you are finding lots of value on the blog! Yes, you can outsource all the writing…you just might have to pay well to get great content. There are great writers for reasonable prices, just might take some time to find the right one.


The right mindset with a long term view is what made Pat and Ryan so successful.

I’m starting from scratch but thinking the same way. And reading that you are shifting to long term, too, just inspires me even more! Thank you for writing this valuable post.


First time on your site (hyperlink from Smart Passive Income). I’m in the process of starting an online business (not a niche site) and while reading this post and others on your site I have some questions. 1) What is your “Authority Site” and why don’t you have a hyperlink to it and I also noticed you don’t have links to any of your niche sites???? 2) On your income report post/screen prints you mention “session”…what is that? I’m just trying to understand this new terminology and protocols. Thank you for you time.

Spencer Haws

Thanks for stopping by Monica! Here’s answers to your other 2 questions:
1. I don’t reveal the sites I’m working on usually. Although I have done this twice if you read these case studies:
2. A “session” is a term used by google that is similar to a visitor. A session is when an individual accesses your website. If they come back to your website a second time, that would be a second session. If you want to get the answer from Google, here it is:

Rahul Yadav

Good stuff Spencer! I am satisfied with you

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