Niche Site Project 2: Income Report for November 2013!

By Spencer Haws |

Up to this point, Perrin and I have been providing weekly updates on our niche site project.  I am going to mark today as our first official Monthly income report!

When you read our weekly reports, it may just seem like we are taking very small baby steps.  And in reality, that IS what’s happening; however, when you take a look overall at what we’ve accomplished so far, its pretty impressive.

Today’s report is going to be a bit of that step back to look at the entire big picture.

As you recall, we started this project with just the idea of creating a niche site.  After going through some intense keyword research, we settled on the idea of targeting the keyword, “best safety razor” to start.

Then we began the process of content creation, and then finally promotion and link building.  Its now been 13 weeks since we even started thinking about this project, and the site is starting to show some real promise!  Read Perrin’s write up below to get the details.

Less Reports Going Forward

I know that many of you look forward to the weekly reports, but I have decided to cut them down to once every other week.  Now that is up and running, there is much less to report on.  Perrin is not spending as much time learning and building the site as he was before; now he is primarily just continuing to promote the site and add content as needed.

This is what niche sites are all about anyway.  The idea is that they can eventually become more hands free; and Perrin’s site is getting much closer to that point.  As a result, we will continue to report all the major events and learning aspects of the project; however, we should be able to do that twice a month, rather than every week.

Perrin’s Week 13 Write-Up

Thirteen weeks down! It’s been 13 weeks, and this week was pretty slow for me. I was a bit busy at my day job, I was traveling for Thanksgiving, and I got the flu (I’m still sick, actually)! So I didn’t get as much done as I’d planned to.

Still, the site made some good progress, driven mostly by the holiday shoppers, and I’m teeing myself up for a few base hits this week.

Status Report

Ranking: For my primary keyword, “Best safety razor,” I’m still floating around the #3 and #4 spots (#3 today, according to Long Tail Pro). I seem to have hit a plateau, so most of my work this week will probably be focused on getting some more link juice to that page.

As for my secondary keywords, not too much has changed. Most of them are ranking on the second or third pages, and I have about three sitting on the front page. One of my best keywords is ranking #1 or #2, which is really awesome and I think is contributing to the bump I’ve seen in my earnings.

Overall, the site has lost a bit of its upward momentum, although it’s holding steady in the top 5 of Google. If I’m going to get to the $500/mo mark, I’ll need to inject a bit more link juice.

Earnings: Now for some good news! In October, I earned $6.35. Not a lot, but I was super excited to earn my first dollar from shaving-related sales. However, when I checked my Amazon Associates account on Saturday, the last day of the November, I was pleasantly surprised to see I’d earned $39.43!

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I know $40 may not seem like a ton of money. But only a few months ago, creating a site that made any money seemed totally impossible – much less one that made $40 in one month.

Here’s a Screenshot of November Earnings


Still, there are a few things to note here. A lot of those earnings came from holiday shopping, since I saw a huge spike on Black Friday. However, almost all of my sales were shaving-related products, which leads me to believe people are finding my site, reading the content, and following my links to Amazon.

So, while I’m glad to see more money coming through the door, I’m also curious to see how the holiday season affects the earnings. I hope they won’t decrease too much, and I hope the extra sales will create some trust – or maybe even a few natural backlinks – for the site.

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Content: Even though I was busy, traveling and sick, I did manage to get some great content up on the site. After reaching out to a couple people in the industry, one of the coolest new friends I made was Douglas Smythe from He’s an awesome guy who runs a great blog and is just starting a product line via an eCommerce store. So he’s doing some really great stuff.

Anyway, Douglas and I had been emailing back and forth for a while, and I’d written a guest post for him. After talking to him a bit, I figured the ‘Penny Shaved readers would really benefit from his expertise, so I asked him to do an interview. We conducted the interview over email, and it ended up being over 2,000 words. But not just 2,000 words – 2,000 words of really fantastic content.

I’m pretty excited to have that piece up and live. It adds loads and loads of value for my readers, and it shows the power (and fun) of making new friends.

What’s on the docket?

This week, I have a few plans to increase my rankings.

First, I’m going to correct a broken link in one of my Rank Hero articles. An awesomely attentive Niche Pursuits reader (thanks, Newlyn!) emailed me to let me know that link was broken, and I wasn’t getting any link juice from it. So that will be one more really great link pointing to my primary keyword. Hopefully, that alone will earn me a spot or two in the SERPs.

Second, I’m going to craft another resources page, similar to the one I’d detailed a few weeks back. I haven’t decided who I’m going to target exactly. I have a list of several blogs, so I have several choice.

Right now, I’m considering targeting one of two types of websites: (1) shaving-related sites that have resources pages of their own or (2) semi-relevant but high-authority fashion and style sites.

There would be pros and cons to each, of course. If I targeted the sites who have their own resources pages, I could potentially get a permanent link on a great, relevant page. However, the sites I’ve found don’t have a whole lot of page authority, and many of them only list beard and moustache sites on their resources pages, which would probably mean I’d be out of place. There also aren’t as many of these.

If I target fashion and style sites, I’ll be sacrificing a bit of relevance (not too much, though) for a lot more page authority. None of the sites on my list have a resources page or blogroll, but I could potentially secure a few guest posts.

Lastly, I might build some links using Jon Cooper’s link building course. I’ve never used this, but Spencer tells me it’s great, so I might just buy it for myself for Christmas!

And if all else fails, I may just buy another round of links on Rank Hero.

As for content, I’m going to order my first article this week. Probably today, actually. I think I’m going to try iWriter first. The prices are reasonable, you can include as detailed instructions as you want, and you can reject any article you don’t like. I’ll let you know how it goes!

My question to those of you following along:

How close are you to your earnings goal? If you’re not too close, what do you plan to change?

Til next time!

Niche Business Ideas | 73 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?

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Congratulations on your progress Perrin. I’ve learnt a great deal by following your footsteps.

I’ve used iWriter in the past. The quality was poor. I personally prefer INeedArticles. Not great, but a touch better.

Are you using any tools to index your backlinks/articles? Some of mine take weeks to to register.

Keep up the great work 🙂


Thanks for the info 🙂

I might just give both of them a go and see what turns up. I’ll let you know!


Wohooo…1st comment 😀

Great going Perrin…i can feel your joy in these first few sales…hope the earnings continue to grow…

I myself sold about 17 items on black Friday and crossing my fingers for this good run to continue


Shucks, just saw that I was beaten to it by Nate


Better luck next time Armaan 😉


Nice! Congrats on the sales 🙂


Thanks. Here’s to both of us having an awesome December 🙂


Perrin & Spencer,

I modeled a ‘store’ page on your niche projects using EasyAzon and TablePress.

I noticed a significant drop in my rankings shortly after adding these affiliate links.

It’s confusing since I’ve set them to ‘No Follow’. Do you cloak your affiliate links too?


I’m just interested, how much aff. links are there on your homepage? I also have a table, with around 30aff. links, but the table was on the page from beginning so I cannot see direct impact. My page is just starting to rank.


Hi Kancur,

Thanks for your take.

This store isn’t on my homepage, but I’ve noticed a drop of 4-5 places for keyword phrases since adding it.

As an aside, I’ve updated the theme a few days earlier (StudioPress) so perhaps that’s related?

Either way, I think I’ll cloak the links and test the results.


Nate, can you please share your progress later on ? If you manage somehow to get your ranking back? Do you have any page where you share your progress? If not, just send me an email if you want or reply here then 🙂
Thank you very much 🙂

Spencer Haws

No, I don’t cloak links. You might want to try making the actual page of your store a “no index” page. Then Google won’t crawl it, and your ranks should return. Exact same thing happened to me here:


Thanks Spencer & Kancur.

I’ll ‘no index’ the page and let you know how it works out 🙂


I’d be very interested to know how this turns our for you too Nate.


Thanks Spencer & Kancur,

Worked like a charm. Rankings have jumped back up!


Ahh, sorry. I had this page open from a few days ago and just replied before it refreshed to show your comment. That’s very interesting as ‘m using the table like Spencer on my home page. I too a hammering with the latest google update so might try taking the affiliate links out of the home page table.


Thanks nate!

Jae @ U-Save Moving and Storage

So I just checked your keyword and it shows that you are in first place where I am at, so congrats.

I hope that this xmas season really helps you out, but remember the two slowest months of the year are just around the corner.



Shows me at #7 today — both in Google and LTP. Could be your cookies, but that would have been nice! Ha. 🙂


Excellent progress Perrin, keep up the good work.

With regards to iWriter, I’ve been using them recently and I’ll offer my 2 cents.

What I’d suggest is you use either the second or third option for the quality of writer. But this will depend on your budget. The key is to provide GOOD instructions in the ‘Special Instructions’ section. Be as specific as you can because otherwise you will be disappointed.

Do mention that you are looking for native English writers only and the article must NOT contain any grammatical or spelling errors (unlike my writing here). If they do not meet these then the article will be rejected.

Also, do mention that you are looking for attention to detail and no fluff. You will find that most article writers will try and add as much fluff as possible and keep the article quite generic. I’ve just spent a few days rewriting an article I paid for from another article writer because I got so frustrated.

If the article that comes back does contain good content but a few spelling errors, you can either select the ‘rewrite’ option and ask them to do it again or you can make those minor tweaks yourself. The great thing is that iWriter has a time limit so chances are you will get this content back in a few days.

Being based in the UK, one thing I have found with iWriter is that timing is everything. When I submitted a ‘Get Content’ request first thing in the morning here in London, the content was written by non natives, and this showed. When these articles were rejected and resubmited at around 6pm UK time, I found the quality of articles were miles apart in quality. Clearly the the US writers I wanted to target were awake.

Do brace yourself though. As a professional writer, letting someone else write the content will be a tough one so all the best with that. I doubt you’ll be 100% satisfied with what comes back due to your high standards but as long as the content hits its goal then its all good.

Textbroker is also another option but not used them. Maybe someone else can offer their input there.

Always a pleasure reading your updates and hope you get well soon!

Zaheer 🙂


This is great info. Thanks, Zaheer! I’ll give a couple things a try and keep you guys updated. 🙂


I’ve tried all of the content brokers and the best by far is I pay around $15 per 500 words and rarely have to make changes if the instructions are well written. They aren’t cheap, but much less expensive then paying a site like iwriter and then having to spend the time to request revisions / make revisions myself. Saves me time (money) in the long run.


Cheers Matt,

Going to give them a shot. Just changing some of the content in the last week isn’t worth the time!


Spencer Haws

Thanks for sharing Matt!


That’s awesome news about your income Perrin. Congrats! You just barely edged out my November income ($38.17, up from just $1.88 in October). I’m betting we both smash our November numbers in December! Good luck and I look forward to more reports.


Haha. Nice! Edged you out by a couple pennies! Looks like we’re both kickin butt. 🙂

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Hey Perrin!

How awesome is that – $40 for November. I know that would put a skip in my step.

It has been fun to watch you build this site from scratch and learn with you along the way. Thanks for allowing us to look over your shoulder.

I have yet to sit down and watch last weeks update so I am a bit behind but will catch up this weekend.

On a side note: I went ahead and upgraded to the platinum version of LongTailPro and all I can say is … wow. Definitely helps to eliminate some of the guess work when you can see the KC score. I don’t know why I waited so long.

I plan on putting up a narrowly focused site and monetized it with Google ads. This should offset the monthly fee.

Thanks for such a great tool, Spencer.


I know! LTP Plat takes SO much time off the process. 🙂

Spencer Haws

You are very welcome Allen…thanks!


Oh, oh! Do we get a follow up post on outsourcing content creation soon? I suck at all things outsourcing.

That said, I’ve heard good stuff about Zery’s. Might check ’em out.


I would suggest worrying about content after you start getting a decent amount of hits per a day. I have a fairly new website with no backlinking done ranking in the 20s – 50s for several keywords. All i’ve done is 1) on-page SEO, and 2) Inner Linking. For the content, I went on and pulled some unique content from expired domains, and pasted that on my page. The topic isn’t even relevant.

Once I start building backlinks to it, I’m either going to write some kind of relevant content, or outsource it. I might write it for this site because it’s a topic i’m interested in.


I’m not sure that is the best route to go. What I’ve normally done is I will write the first 10-15 articles myself and post them up one by one, and then based on how the rankings go for the 15 articles, then I decide if I want to proceed on the website and start outsourcing the content.

Yes, you are investing time, but you aren’t investing the money unless you decide to outsource the backlinking.

You’re going to get a true gauge of what your website is going to do based on the original content that you’re creating for it.



The most important thing about outsourcing anything is you need to give them detailed and structured instructions that they can follow.

So for example, content creation, you want to explain how you want the structure of the article (ex. do you want it broken up into sections, bullets, etc.), what slant do you want them to put on it, and the key points that you want covered. If you do something along those lines, then you will normally get something that is close to what you want.

If you just say “write me an article on razor xyx”, you don’t know what you’re going to get in return to be perfectly honest. Obviously it’s going to be an article on that razor, but it may not cover any of the points you want to cover in order to make it quality content.

That’s just my take on outsurcing. I am an application manager for our software projects at work and we attempted outsourcing, and I definitely learned what needed to be done very fast after getting a project back that did nothing close to how it was designed.


I’ve been building my Niche site along with yours, its in the same model as the Amazon sites that you and Spencer made.
In October I made $1.49
November- $0.
December- $3.67 so far.

Just this past week, I’ve seen my traffic spike from about 10 visitors, to 20 all the way up to 40.

I think I can attribute my spike in visitors to long tail traffic. About a week ago, I re did the SEO on each page of my site to target 7-10 additional keywords. On my overall website, I target long-tails and short-tails that add up to 124,000 Exact Matches per Month. I have this spread out over 11 pages.

I believe that anchor text is near irrelevant now. For pages that don’t have any links built to them, they are ranking LTK anywhere from 20-70! All I have is on-page SEO and a deliberate inner linking structure. I’m really excited for the next couple weeks, I’ll try to provide an update then too.

Before this spike, I had 300 unique visits, and 120! of them were from a link I posted in a sub-reddit. It was pretty surprising to see over 1/3 of my traffic coming from one link. The bounce rate from this link was about 90% though, way above my organic bounce rate. My niche is pretty dry so I can see why rediter’s hated it.

Mark N.

Good job Kevin. I would suggest not making ANY significant changes to your onsite SEO at this point though, as this is a very unpredictable period of the year as far as sales (particularly on Amazon) go; we had Black Friday last week, Cyber Monday yesterday, and now is the Holiday Shopping season — all of which significantly boost both site visits, CTR and conversion rates. So making any changes at this time would be counter productive because you wouldn’t be able to tell for sure whether an increase in traffic/sales was a result of the changes you did or if it was due to the season.



I completely agree with you. My site is normally 250-400/day and normally right around $500/month. For November, especially around Thanksgiving, my visitors averaged over 600/day and I hit $1100 for November. It’s definitely something you have to look at. I would be careful in November and December on gauging how well the site is going to do. Those two months for product selling websites are going to skew things a little bit.


Nice man! That’s pretty sweet progress. And getting from $0 to $1 is the biggest obstacle for most of us. Congrats!


Just wonder why not try textbroker?
I think is time for me to start working on a niche site properly. I am already wasting too much time.


I think I might. Spencer seems to have had some success with them in the past. I plan on trying several of the major content suppliers and seeing which I like. So I’ll let you guys know!


I’ve used and (different authors) bot with good results when requesting a 4 star writer.

Josh May

Love hearing about the progress you’ve made!

Quick question for anyone:

Which is better in your opinion, Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro?

I’m looking to eventually get a new keyword program to optimize my own site and I’d like to know some of your opinions on this.

Very interesting post though guys!

Josh May


LTP is way better.


aPennyShaved is progressing really well … Best of Luck for future Perrin 🙂


Hi Perrin ,
Great job with the site!
Please check your Home Page,
I see 2 H1 there:
: A Penny Shaved
: What’s the Best Electric Shaver?

This might be holding you back in some of the positions.
All the best,

Spencer Haws

I see no reason why that would hold Perrin back. Having 2 H1s is not a big deal.


Hi Spencer,
From what i know having 2 H1 is actually saying that this article has 2 subjects which cant be true.
You can have multiple H2 and H3 but only one H1


Good Going, Perrin.


Thanks man 🙂


Congrats on the progress man! Just wanted to let you know that I have been into IM/AM for the past two years now but have learned more in the past month after discovering your site than I had in my previous two years! I’ve started a few new niche sites after using your Long Tail Pro software and can’t wait to see how they progress! Keep up the great work!


Congrats perrin! This project has inspired me to build my own site. Unfortunately im not having any success. I did the appropriate keyword research and I’ve created about 30 articles on my topic between 1k-2k words each. Every article is indexed and has ranked on the top 6 pages of google within 12 hours after posting, but then dissapears after a day. I’ve been trying to build backlinks, but its not working out.

What i dont get is this is suppose to be an easy niche. Most of my keywords are under 25 kc in ltp and the top sites are similar niche sites or low authority ecommerce sites. I’ve created over 100…a mix of article submissions, web 2.0, forum comments and profiles, and blog comments. I don’t know what to do!

/rant over!


i had the exact same problem, it happened twice with 2 different niches. i made something like $5 last month from both, both also have around 300 backlinks. i guess they are not very high quality back links and many are no follow. i think what both of us are missing are the high quality links. perrin paid for his, i can’t afford to do the same. ive been at this now for a few months on and off and i’ve begun to realize that unless i do pay for my links il never get anywhere. both my site rank between page 2 and 3 for their primary keywords on google.


Hi Spencer,

I’m in the early stage of creating my first niche site, analyzing competitor sites… and looked for your best survival knife guide website with the keyword “best survival knife”, and your site came up on Page 6 which surprised me. I was expecting it on page 1 or 2. Would you mind explaining? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

Spencer Haws

I’ve covered this in depth, please read and follow the links on the article you are on right now, plus read the last 3 few posts here:


Sorry I missed that I just started a few days ago reading up on your blog. Thanks!!


Barbara, somebody used negative seo on him. Click on niche site project 1 on the top right hand corner and look at its history




Wondering if anyone can help?

According to open site explorer/LTP my site only has 2 backlinks, despite me manually building a great deal more than that.

I understand that it takes time for links to get picked up, but Im assuming that until they do they are not contributing to my sites ranking at all?

the keyword im targeting is very low competition and im hovering around 40-60 in google, which is surprisingly low to me considering the amount of backlinks, wondering if the links im built not being picked up yet is the problem..?


Spencer Haws

Open site explorer can take a couple of months to find your links. Google on the other hand sees your links almost right away and so those links are contributing. Whether or not opensiteexplorer ever shows your links or not has no impact on your rankings. Google does.

The links are likely picked up by google, but the quality of links might not be good – which is why you might not be ranking very well yet.


cheers spencer, now I know that my links have (likely) been picked up by google I can put more effort into building more quality links, rather than worrying that im wasting my time!

thanks again


Awesome progress Perrin, its always good to hear about new successes to keep us motivated. I recently created my 1st niche site as well, but I haven’t had much success with it. To be honest I haven’t even been able to get it indexed to google yet. I’m not entirely sure what I’ve done wrong, I submited a sitemap thinking that might help but its been about 3 weeks and still hasn’t been indexed. Any advice?


hi perrin,

Congrats, I strongly believe that you’ll be able to earn much more over time.

One quick question, can you please share your # of unique visitors / pageviews for November. It would be great to see the CTR’s of visitors to amazon,to see how well they are in “buying mode”


Nice update! Build a portfolio of these sites and you have a healthy monthly income!

I still make money from my solitary niche website– it varies anywhere from $10 – $100 a month– but I haven’t put 5 minutes into it in months.

Perhaps I need to though…


Hey man 🙂

I’m currently trying to figure this out. My Google Analytics is being super weird. It shows me at only 32 unique visits.

However, Google Webmaster Tools shows me at 18,000 impressions and 2,000 clicks, most of them coming from shaving keywords. So, right now, because my sales seem to indicate it, I’m guess GWT is the most correct.

Still trying to figure it out, though…


This was for Ifran!

Donald W

Hey Perrin and Spencer,

So I’ve been doing some restructuring of internal links on a niche site I started a while back that has been generating some small income here and there.

When I was looking at apennyshaved I still see pages pointing to themselves like the straight razor page. I see anchor text with not much relevance at all to what its linking to. Ex there is a link/anchor about the history of beards linking to a shaving cream or soap page. And another about straight razors that links to whats the best electric shaver and another history reference that links to the home page.

I’m not criticizing by any means because what your doing is working. The question I guess would be was this done on purpose still? Even after going over your site a few weeks ago with Spencer? I’m just curious because I thought it was a good idea to make the links and anchor text relevant to what they are pointing to for onsite seo.

Otherwise the site still looks great and I especially liked the dirty hobo troll that scares everyone beard style! Lol Keep up the great work Perrin

frank joseph

Congratulations and you are already doing great, hope to be part of the niche money making group soon. I love Jon seo strategy!

Isaiah joseph

Big Congrats here Haws, i really appreciate the advise and income report that shows that you know your stuff. Thanks for this report. Hope that one day, i can be able to match your earning…


Why would you backlink the site from your article. Let the site get backlinks from other sources. Since you are giving away quality backlink from your site so it messes up

Spencer Haws

I didn’t backlink to my site from this article. The links goes to other pages on


Congratulations man, been following this from day one and kind of got inspired to run my own project, in fact this is my first month i got some small earning from my first amazon affilaite web site. May I ask you one question?

On the earning reports the 3rd party advertising fees are 5% but the advertising fees with amazon as a seller are only 1.79%. is there a reason for that? I thought everything is at least 5%?

would very much appreciate your insight

Just Tom

Congrats on the success Perrin!

And thanks to you both for all of the insights.

In just over a week i have watched all of the coaching calls and read all of the write ups and its been super useful. I’d go as far as to say I’ve learned more following along this project in the last month about the nuts and bolts of starting a website than i have in the last year of research.

I’ll be launching in January thanks to you guys

Happy Holidays


Spencer Haws

Awesome to hear Tom! Glad its been helpful…that’s what its all about. Best of luck in January.

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