Some of my blog posts are a mental exercise as I strategically plan my own business. Today will be one of those posts. So I hope you enjoy my thoughts as I decide where to take my current niche site business.
Today I want to discuss the topic of how many sites someone should build; and deciding when and how much to scale those websites. I've covered this topic a few times in the past including my last blog post and podcast with Perrin.
Last week, one of the 9 mistakes I pointed out was not scaling your business. I've also been asked recently by a reader to bring up the whole small niche site vs authority site once again.
So, lets dig in a bit deeper today, as I am going through some of these decisions right now in my own business.
The Good Ol' Days
Back in the good ol' days of Google, you could build dozens of sites each month and have many of them ranking quickly and making money. This is how many of us got started several years ago in the niche site business. It was more about gaming Google and seeing how many niches you could discover and expose as quickly as possible.
However, over the past few years with Panda, Penguin, and other updates; Google has forced us to change our tactics.
Automated and mass link building no longer works; so its nearly impossible to scale hundreds of websites all at once. Circa 2007 to 2011 you could, but no longer…those days are long gone (hopefully you got the memo).
I've said it many times before and I'll say it again, if you are trying to build dozens of brand new websites all at once…its a terrible strategy! There, said it…again.
I've written a VERY detailed post that goes over this exact topic called, “Should I Build Large or Small? Taking a Portfolio Approach with Niche Site.” Read it again to get where I stand on the subject.
How Many Sites Should You Build?
I am FAR from saying niche sites are dead. Here's a quick quote from this post, just to remind you of what a “niche site” is:
I want to start off by simply clarifying how I personally think of niche sites. A niche site does NOT mean a small website. There, I said it.
I think too many people think that a “Niche” website means building a site that only has 10 or 20 pages of content. This is simply not the case.
“Niche” really means a small segment of an overall market or product. It means laser focused on one particular topic…or niche. As a perfect example, and to prove that I’m not the only one that thinks this way; check out the Wikipedia page of what a “Niche” Market is right here.
And even better, guess what example Wikipedia gives as an example of a Niche market/website? ESPN.com! That’s right ESPN.com is a niche website. It focuses exclusively (with laser focused intensity) on Sports. Again, this isn’t my example, this is from Wikipedia. Yes, this is a VERY large niche site, but it is indeed a niche site.
ESPN.com produces dozens of articles, videos, and more each and everyday.
I share this simply to get the incorrect idea out of your head, that “niche” means a “small” website. It doesn’t.
A better question to ask is not how many sites should I build, but how many can I realistically handle and truly make valuable? For most people this will be no more than 2 or 3. And if you really find a winner on your hands, you may focus exclusively on 1 site forever. That's the best way to scale…100% focus.
However, I know you have the itch to build more, just like me. If you are willing to outsource some of the work and have others help you with the process, you can perhaps manage a few more than 2 or 3.
My Portfolio of Sites
To give you an idea of how many sites I am building with a full time employee (Perrin), I wanted to review the portfolio of sites we've built over the past 5 months.
- Perrin and I have built a total of 8 niche sites from the ground up since January.
- I've purchased 2 additional niche sites that Perrin helps out on. (See the income report from these 2 sites here).
- I have 2 additional sites that were partially started before Perrin came on board that he is helping to scale larger.
That makes an even dozen sites that Perrin and I are actively working on and building together right now. So, we've built 8 new sites total, and we are questioning whether that was too much over a period of 6 months as its difficult to focus on all of them at once.
So, if you are building a site each month, you might be building more than you can handle. (Obviously this is just my opinion and everyone's situation and resources are different).
In addition to those dozen sites that Perrin has a direct influence on, I still have over 100 older niche sites that sit passively and still earn each month; although much less than in their heyday back in 2009 to 2012.
I also have another website that is a very “white hat” site that I've been working on for a couple of years (very sparingly). I've never built a single link to it manually; very much in the style of what Fraser Cain recommends. It's a site in a niche that I am very interested in, and I've grown it to a point where its getting between 700 to 1,000 uniques per day.
This is a site that I plan to scale massively with content and products and expect really big things from after another year or 2.
And finally, I'm currently in negotiations to buy another site that also has a lot of potential. (I'm sure I'll share more on this site purchase down the road).
That is obviously just for my niche sites…I also own NichePursuits.com and am involved in other websites; such as:
When to Scale Your Website
Now that I've hopefully talked you out of building dozens of sites over the next 12 months, the question comes to when to scale your site? This is a point that Perrin and I are actively discussing in our own business. With the dozen sites that Perrin is directly involved with, our hands are full.
We've debated whether to build more sites because we know there are lots of other great niches out there; however, we've decided that we are not going to build any new sites for the foreseeable future.
We've got a great portfolio of young sites that are starting to rank well, and we believe that we can scale them to be much larger properties. At the end of the day, I feel like I can make more money by investing in my existing sites than by building new sites.
And we've built the sites in a way, using brandable domains, that some of them could grow into six figures a year websites. Yep, that's an ambitious goal that may never happen; however, some of the niches we are in do have competing affiliate websites that likely are doing six figures a year. So, why can't we do the same if we scale properly?
So, when should you start scaling your site with more content? As soon as you see some promise in your Google rankings and earnings. For me, this is when I see a site making a couple hundred dollars a month and/or ranking for lots of long tail keywords…and hopefully on or near the first page of Google for its primary keyword.
And of course you need to do your own analysis on which of your websites would make the most sense to grow larger. But for Perrin and I, we are taking our site that is our top earner right now and will be adding 20 to 30 new articles to the site next month (June).
We have a couple of sites that are almost six months old now, and they are starting to rank well. We will likely be adding up to 30 articles on each of these sites in the next 30 days. If the results are good, we may continue adding new content each week to these sites.
Here's a look at some of the traffic growth of a few of our sites over the past few months. (Note that there are still a few days left in May, so the growth will be even more pronounced for these in a few days):
Site 1 Built from Scratch in January. We will be adding lots of content in June to scale this site:
Site 2 Built from Scratch in January. We will most likely be adding lost of content to this site in June:
Purchased Site bought in January. We are looking to add content and scale this site as well in June.
Here's a site we built in January, that is doing okay; but hasn't been quite as successful in terms of earnings. We may continue link building for a month or 2 before we start adding lots of content. I'd like to see it getting a bit more traffic and earnings before I invest much more in this one. So, I'm on this fence with this site. Depending on how my “scaling” techniques work on the other 3 sites, I may decide to just go ahead and go for it with this one below as well:
More Than Content
To truly scale a business, you need to add more than just new content. Right now, new content is all I'm focusing on to grow my niche site portfolio with Perrin. However, once one of these sites really “takes off”, we will scale our earnings by moving away from affiliate products to selling our own products.
At that time, we might start selling kindle books on Amazon, create our own physical product, find software solutions, or find some other way to create a product in order to capture as much profit margin as possible.
I do currently sell an ebook for one of my niche sites that I created a couple years ago, but beyond that exactly how we will scale our current niche sites is theoretical. We will cross that bridge as we see more traffic from the additional content that we add.
At the end of the day, I hope to have a couple of sites doing “really” well that I can grow for the next few years. I think that's something that everyone in the niche site game should be striving to achieve.
Overall, I would love to hear your thoughts. I hope you don't mind as I shared a few more details about my own business and went through the mental exercise of deciding what sites I should scale and other details.
If nothing else, I hope this post helps you think through the process of how many sites you should be building, when to scale them, and how to make them as profitable as possible.