Niche Site Project 3.0 Update for November and December 2016

By Spencer Haws |

Another couple of months have passed, and Samara, Colleen, and Ryan have been hard at work.  Below you will find their updates for both November and December.

As you can see, they are started to see varying degrees of success.  I’m very happy with the effort that they have put in, and I expect that their sites will continue to grow.

Remember, this is the first time that any of them have really attempted to build a niche site, so the fact that they are starting to make money and get traffic is a good thing.  Below you will find the updates written by each of the students.

Samara Update for

Hey everybody!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone and their niche sites went out with a bang in 2016.

I have been busy these last few months working on In truth there’s not a ton of new info to share, as you already know the strategy I’m using: publish good content, do some outreach, get a few backlinks. I’m also pleased to report that it seems to be working.

Traffic continues to grow, as you can see from this screenshot from Google Analytics.

In other positive news, I had my best months yet selling through my affiliate links on Amazon in November and December, earning $149 and $284, respectively. I’m obviously excited about this, but I also fear that my good performance was attributable mainly to holiday shopping and doesn’t truly reflect the growth trend I’ve been seeing. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens in January.

November Earnings

December Earnings

I took some time out to redesign and reorganize my home page, and I think it looks pretty respectable! I’ve also reformatted almost all of my articles, so that they all follow the same structure, for the most part. This was time consuming, but I think the feel and look are more coherent now.

On a negative note, I’ve realized I completely suck at social media. Theoretically, it doesn’t seem that difficult to find something interesting and relevant to post on a daily basis, but it actually is. I was able to get my act together for maybe a few weeks in the last two months, but then I just put social media on the backburner again.

I’ve also dropped the ball with my monthly newsletters. Embarrassingly, I actually forgot to send them on more than one occasion! At the moment they’re kind of like an afterthought for me, so now I’ve programmed a reminder in my phone to make sure I send them out. I haven’t made much of an effort to get new subscribers, although they continue to trickle in, and now I have about 50.

Overall I’m super pleased, and I feel like I’m seeing results from all the content creation, linkbuilding and outreach I’ve been doing. But to be perfectly honest, I thought I would see faster growth and better results sooner. Realistically, there are only so many hours in the day, and like lots of you, I’m also juggling a family and a job, among other things, and sometimes I don’t even sit down at my computer until 11 pm!

The real truth is that it’s an uphill battle that takes a lot of time, patience and perseverance. That’s okay though because, as I’ve said before, I’m in this for the long haul! I hope you guys are too!

Colleen Update on

Hi everyone,

It’s been a short couple months since our last update, or maybe it feels a bit longer for you. Things have been busy, but in a great way! In the past month I’ve started my own business in the Web Development realm AND am getting ready to jetset off to Southeast Asia for a few months. Nothing like the sand in your toes and a cocktail in hand while you work, am I right?

Enough about me, let’s talk about Coustii! November and December were big months for my site. If you remember, back and July I switched my link building efforts to content creation. Selecting keywords in Long Tail Pro that had low competition and good traffic.

In October, I received about 4,500 sessions. In November I had 6,700! Then things got real in December when I received 12,500 sessions! That means I practically doubled my traffic from November to December. I also noticed a slight increase in my DA from 32 to 34.



Of course November and December are prime Amazon affiliate months. With people buying presents for friends and family, I received a nice little check from Amazon. In November I made $92 and in December $111. I know that the holiday gift giving will subside in January, but I’m looking forward to seeing how my increase in traffic impacts my Amazon earnings.

November Earnings:

December Earnings:

I do have to thank Spencer and Perrin immensely, because these skills and opportunities that I’ve gained through the Niche Site Project 3 is what is allowing me live the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed!

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Until next time!

Ryan Update on

Oh man, do I dread these write-ups.

They are a reminder that time flies, and that excuses build walls between you and your dreams. But, it’s not all bad this time around.

I do have some victories (small ones)! And everything is still trending in the right direction – just very slowly. So, I’m going to choose to look at things being positive in general.

The Victories:

  1. I think I’ve published three or four articles since our last check-in. I know that is pathetically low, but it’s a lot for me – especially considering how long it can take me to finish just ONE article. Maybe it’s actually time to outsource a few. I’ve been trying to avoid that because money is tight as it is, but I think I’m finally going to bite the bullet and see if I can find a decent writer at a decent price.
  2. I wrote my first guest post. Yeah, that’s right. I’m a guest-poster now. I actually think I wrote a really great piece that’s going to (hopefully) get a decent amount of traffic for this person’s site. I also allowed a guest post on my site. I wasn’t expecting to do that, but I trusted the person, I need content, and it’s kind of hypocritical to be a guest-poster and not a guest-postee, no? So, I did it, and I’m glad I did.
  3. I’ve reinstated my Amazon Affiliate links. I was starting to get some actual traffic, and I figured it was time to see what kind of clicks I was getting. No sales yet, but I’m getting clicks. Just waiting for that first person to order! You can see my pathetic Amazon stats below. Here’s the thing… I only have two affiliate articles right now. Everything else is informational. After I finish the big article that I’m working on, I’m going to transition to writing 2-3 (killer) money articles. Maybe more. I don’t want the site to become lopsided, but I’m definitely out of the sandbox and it’s time to see if I can get some sales.

I have a concern about my market…

I’m a little worried that a large portion of my market is going to be under age. When I think about who’s the most interested in baseball products, it’s definitely kids. Most adults (with the exception of me, and awesome people like me) don’t play baseball.

They used to, but they don’t now.

That means that a lot of the traffic to my site may be kids that have no means to actually make a purchase.

I’m not naive enough to think that parents don’t search the same things their kids do, in an effort to buy them the best gear. But I also know that kids are going to be driving these purchases, and how does that work, exactly?

I really don’t know.

Do teenagers put stuff in their parent’s Amazon cart and then beg them to buy it? Do they research this stuff and then show their parents the screen and say, “this is what I want”! Only to have their parents ignore them for weeks at a time until they’re ready to make a purchase?

I don’t now how modern e-commerce works. When I was a kid, you went to the sporting goods store with your parents and showed them what you wanted… and then they bought you something cheaper.

So it’s a legitimate concern, I think. Do any of you guys have niche sites that fall into this category? I’d be interested to hear.

The Stats

As you can see from the stats below, I’m not exactly blowing the doors off of Google. I’d say I’m doing okay considering the lack of backlinks and the lack of content. Keyword planning and on-page SEO are the only things garnering me traffic right now.

But, as I say every time we have an update, I’m not giving up. This is just what my pace has been. I was never in this for a quick buck, anyway. Authenticity was probably the most important thing to me.

It just kinda sucks that I’m authentically slow. I hope everyone else is crushing it!

Your Thoughts

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the progress of Samara, Colleen, and Ryan.  Each of them have been putting in effort and starting to see some results, and earnings!

I believe that they all have the skills now to more or less do everything on their own.  So, whether they continue to work on these existing sites or whether they decide they want to build something new, they have the knowledge and ability to do so.

I look forward to seeing the progress they make over the next couple of months.


Stories & Projects | 68 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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Kent Chow

I believe Samara and Colleen are on right track for sure. I revisited my money sites stat and amazed their first few earning months were like $100 or $200.

It’s more about getting the momentum and push forward to hit $500 or even $1k/mo in few months.

Probably they are out of sandboxes and gained the trust from Google over-time. Time to break the ice and scale.

Good luck 2017! Love to follow up their journey and update.

Spencer Haws

I agree…thanks Kent!

Colleen Kinsey

Thanks Kent! Appreciate the motivation


12k hits and only $150 comission? Ouch! You are in the wrong niche or doing something wrong. Good niches should have between 5-15%. The best niche I’ve found did between 15-20% conversion rate (95% margins). It seems the three are doing well but just could be in the wrong niches


Great to see Samara rocking it 🙂 I am sure Colin and Samara will have a healthy competition 😉
Rooting for you Ryan, you can do it 😀 😀

Spencer Haws

Thanks Khalid!

Ben Doyle

Hoping things continue to go well for Sam and Colleen.

Ryan, keep plugging away man!

I’m in month 2 of my site build. First month earnings were £57.92, this month are £61.38 (I’m in the UK) already so I’m pretty pleased!

Been accepted into some pretty tough insurance related affiliate programs too and money articles are on page 2 so far. When they get to page one I think earnings will jump pretty big – at least that’s what I’m hoping!

All this being said, I’ve spent around £1,200 in links and I’ll keep re-investing into links.

Spencer Haws

Sounds great…good luck Ben!


These are always some of my favorite posts. I love hearing how the three Samara, Colleen and Ryan are doing. One aspect I’d really like to hear in future updates is approximately how much time they are spending on their site now that it is up and running.

Thanks to both the NSP 3.0 mentors and mentees for sharing your journey.


Spencer Haws

Sounds great, Leo. Thanks!

Frank Joseph

When I saw Tinfry. I know it is going places. Samara it is time to take this site to $500/M and from there, you will be in the 1k soon.

Best of Luck to Colleen and Ryan.
Waiting for the next update.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Frank!


I’m always looking forward to the update of Samara. Thank so much Spencer: D

P/s: I love and always follow many things on this site.
Thanks again.

Spencer Haws


Cathy taylor

Samara is doing great, best of luck in the future.. Thank you for the post, please keep updating us.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Cathy!


While I’m sure that all 3 would have loved to see more dramatic results I think that their achievements are a more sobering reminder that this isn’t a quick way to make money. Passive income takes a lot of work. These results make me feel far less disappointed with my early results.
While niche selection and keyword research are important, the varied results they’ve each achieved seem directly related to hours worked. Again, that’s heartening. Write the content and you’ll get traffic.
Samara’s traffic is especially impressive. Has she considered using Adsense on her site? Also, she’d get more clicks if she added her Amazon links to her product images. The articles I checked seemed to just have text and button links. Is Amazon ok with using their product images? I do but I’m worried about getting the Amazon ban hammer.

Spencer Haws

I think she’s considered Adsense, and still may try in the future. Technically you are not supposed to use images from Amazon on your site (although many people do).



You’re scaring me with your comment about not using images from Amazon on your site.

I had read early on that Amazon DOES allow me to link to their images. Here is a link I found where I think they say this:

Am I misreading this?


Spencer Haws

I think there answer is pretty clear. Cant use images unless you use their tools (linking tool or Api, etc). to get the images.


Hmm… I guess I’m not reading it that way. In the Operating Agreement it says the following:

In order to facilitate your advertisement of Products, we may make available to you data, images, text, link formats, widgets, links, marketing content, and other linking tools, application program interfaces, and other information in connection with the Associates Program (“Content”).

It seems like that they are providing “images” and “links” from that statement. But, I could still be misunderstanding it. I get my images from using their “tools”. But, I typically pull the image link out of the generated HTML. So, it’s not “technically” from the tool. Other times I get it from right clicking on an image from the Amazon site.

Once I get filthy rich from my sites, I may give EasyAzon a try. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that I’m not doing it wrong.



Hey Spencer,

Thanks for the updates. Reference images from Amazon, if they don’t allow it, why are they allowing to copy the link from the upper stripe on the page?

Can you clarify that piece?

Thanks keep up the good work.


Spencer Haws

They allow you to use their tools to get images. So as long as you are using their tools (including the upper affiliate stripe), then you are fine.

Brandon Cox

Man, it’s quite encouraging to read such a balanced report. Yes, you can make money… No, it won’t be overnight… Yes, it’s hard work, and it’s the long tail where you’ll see the reward.

Pretty cool how you transparently make it so real what this is all about. Thanks Spencer!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Brandon!


A little bit of advice/encouragement for Ryan. The second site I ever built that was successful (flipped) was a softball site. I know you’re focused on baseball but I know from my own experience they don’t differentiate between the two. ie: we ranked for softball bats and high end baseball gloves. If I were in your shoes I’d create softball content along side baseball content, starting with best softball bats. Unlike baseball players, softball players are often adults and they’ll spend $250+ regularly because everyone playing beer league slow pitch wants to hit dingers. The conversion rate on our site was pretty low but we cracked the $500/month mark with a very small site, so it’s do-able. Best of luck.

Spencer Haws

Great tips, Dan…thanks!


I love following along with these updates as I work on my own niche site! Its great to see others having similar experiences. I think all 3 are doing GREAT, and their relative success is commiserate with their content production. Which, in my opinion, is just further validation of the Spencer Haws Method.

Any plans for Niche Site Project v 4?


Spencer Haws

Thanks Carson! I’ve been thinking about a possible NSP 4, but haven’t made any decisions.

Work Mate

Niche site project is a real encouragement. My site is only a month old and Samara and Colleen are a great encouragement. Ryan has quite a lot to do. He should figure out some way to earn his very first sale.


Great job guys! All of you are doing great work.

Ryan, I would follow Dan’s suggestion to be on the safe side. Although, when I purchase items for my niece, whether it is a toy or even sunscreen. I am always looking at blogs/websites that have reviews of different brands or the best items in those categories. So if I am doing it, I am certain others are as well. I feel like this is the Reviews Before Purchase era.

Good luck Ryan, I am rooting for you!


Hello Spencer, what measurements you are using when selecting new keywords as there are no DA & PA in current Long tail version? I am only at the begging with my project and faced this problem…

Spencer Haws

I use KC under 30.


Very well done to you all for producing sites that are getting visitors…. that is a milestone in itself! To be making income must be highly satisfying? Surely the question now is how to convert more visitors into sales?
Congrats on learning something useful and potentially life changing…. they don’t teach this in school!


I know it’s different for everyone, but what is the average amount of time it takes for a new site to get out of the sandbox these days?


I’ve found that it varies a bit depending on niche, content, links, update/post frequency etc.

But as a good baseline – I started a new niche site last year. Domain regged July 1, content started publishing on the 7th. This is a side project with some real basic link building (a couple guest posts, a few infographic link backs, directory submissions & do-follow blog comments) and I only spend about 4 hours per week (article writing is outsourced).

December was a good month – broke the $100 revenue mark. So far for January the site is at $104 in revenue. Averaging 180 visits per day.

That 6 month guideline is a pretty good average if you’d ask me.


Spencer 2 points that hit me when reading this post…
1- for newbies what are you pointing viewers to do with website related earnings/taxes/w-2 (post idea) and
2 – have you ever done a niche site study off a website builder platform like squarespace (another post idea).

Spencer Haws

1. I tell people to talk to their accountant
2. Interesting idea, never tried it.

James Martinez

Do not be discouraged, you are all doing great! You’re very fortunate to have been a part of this project. You get out what you put in, so just keep putting in carefully and you should reap the rewards!

Rinto Ukken George

I saw the copyright still reads 2016, 🙂


Are you sure that we can’t use the images from Amazon? I have a doubt regarding the images. Does it affect anything????

Spencer Haws

If you use the Amazon API (like EasyAzon does, etc), then you can use Amazon images…otherwise you are technically not supposed to.

Tom L

Hi Ryan

I am having success with Amazon with a sport niche – table tennis. I have found that I have had most success writing for beginner and intermediate players. These are the players who are looking for advice from an ‘expert’ and are most likely to make a purchase from Amazon based on my recommendations. I would have thought there is a lot of buying guides you could do – baseball bats, gloves, balls, books, clothing, training equipment etc. Take a look at my website (go to the equipment section) and you’ll see a range of articles I’ve written. Whilst baseball is obviously a different sport to table tennis, I would have thought a similar approach of writing equipment buying guides will work for you.

Keep going!


Spencer Haws

Thanks Tom!

Daryl Ortiz

Hope i will crack my earning goals soon. Thanks for the tutorial. I too have same question, Why can’t we use amazon images?

Spencer Haws

See previous comment.


Ryan, I’m about as far removed from an expert as it’s possible to be, but you have come so far down the track now, you have to keep going cos I think you’re close to nailing it.
Also great work from Colleen and Samara.
Think all three of you are an inspiration.

Jeff Scholz

Hey Guys,

Colleen, Samara and Ryan – Great work!

I have to say, these sites look great for sure! It’s great to see that you are getting traffic and starting to monetize it quite well.

Ryan, unfortunately your traffic and commissions are not quite where you want them, but its great to see that you are determined and getting guest-posts, etc. Every little step will get you there.

One thing I see for both Colleen and Ryan (although Colleen has been making sales) is that your topics are more informational, and harder to monetize directly. Samara has product based content, probably why she is seeing more sales.

My suggestion would be to find some longtail KWs that have commercial intent, and focus on those. Your sites have plenty of informational content, and would be seen as quite a relevant source of information by Google.

I noticed Colleen mentioned SMM as well; this is it’s own animal, with it’s own strategy – much like SEO, there is a way to optimize SMM for max results.

It’s always the best idea to get your branded social profiles up and running right away, but once you hit each of them with a dedicated campaign, that’s when you see results!

I wish you all the best for 2017! Thank you for taking the time to write these updates, they are quite inspiring.


Spencer Haws

Thanks for the tips Jeff!

Dan W

I see steady progress and learning with all three students within their own particular limitations based on job, family and financial parameters. These updates continue to be inspirational and motivating to other striving affiliates such as myself.
My prediction is Ryan will possibly have his first sales in the next update, with more money posts ; Samara will probably boasting a range of income between $500 to $1000 and Colleen right there with here.
This is tough slow work which needs patience and persistence. I have the same issues with time constraints and time consumption for tasks involved. We are in it for the long haul. It appears Perrin has been really cranking it with a site worth $200k, just a student maybe 3 years ago. So the potential is out there, particularly when the market for affiliate sites is about 30X of monthly income.
Thanx to Samara, Colleen and Ryan for their continued sharing of their progress and honest appraisal. Thank you Spencer for facilitating this great , informative venue to execute the growth of a niche site from scratch.

Spencer Haws

Thank you Dan!

Niche Hard

Tiny Frey,

Wow, those articles are well written. People have no idea how hard it is to write a well-researched review article.

I have to give you a ton of praise and credit. And encouragement to continue. Just keep cranking out articles. Every day is a slog. At least for me.

Niche Hard

Ryan of FiveToolSchool,

Sign up for an account at Sovrn and Adsense, Pack in a bunch of banner ads on your sidebar. The income will trickle in and you should be able to make your hosting fee’s from the adsense revenue. Sure, its not much, but it feeds you hope.

I have dozens of ‘worthless’ sites that earn their rent. Not saying your site is worthless.

A good strategy would be start creating specific reviews of the most popular bats on the market. Buy from Amazon, have it shipped to you, create a bunch of pictures and videos. Promptly return the bat to Amazon. Repeat process over and over again.

Once you get more traffic. Private label a bat. You are off to the races.


I am glad to see that things are moving up for Samara and Colleen. I do not believe that Ryan has got the right niche, but happy to be proven wrong.

Time will tell. The only thing is to get to the first 100 USD and then 500 and finally 1000 USD; After this it is just sailing as long as you are not hit by a competitor negative SEO.

Sanu Mondal

Wow it was Awesome tips for me, Thank you very much i will try for my site to get approval. hope now i will get approval very quickly. Thanks friend.


I’m always happy to see one of your project updates from everyone, Spencer! It’s very encouraging to see that, even though it takes time and effort, making money from a niche site is very possible. I especially love seeing that Colleen, Samara and Ryan have all picked niches that are interesting and entertaining…sometimes it seems like the “moneymakers” are in niches that are kinda dull lol. So this is cool! Great job everyone!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Galaxia!


This is my first time venturing into the word of niche sites and these reports are super helpful. I’m realizing I need to up my content side of the equation much more than I am. You guys are doing awesome! Thanks for the motivation!

Spencer Haws

Good luck, JV!

Saiful Islam

reading this case study from the beginning. Learning new thing on every update you provide. Thank you so much for keeping this going.


Nice updates – thanks guys.

I started a few (well a lot!) of niche sites back in 2010 so I have years worth of stats to mull over. The key lesson I can tell you guys is that good, original content does come good but it can take many years to do so. Remember to use your own images as well! Avoid bad content (especially outsourced content) like the plague because it will drag your entire site down. One of my 2010 Panda/Penguin sites is now booming again because I deleted half of the content in 2013!

While you’re writing like crazy though, remember to put some thought into USEFUL tools because these do get organic backlinks over time and it shows your site is more than just a blog. I know nothing about baseball but maybe Ryan could add an interactive pitching calculator or something. For example, I not only blog about keyword tools – I built my own. As a result I get a tonne of natural backlinks.

Spencer Haws

Great tips, Brett!



Where do you get the images for your site? They look really good and it adds a lot to the experience. Did you purchase them, get them from the public domain, create them yourself or something else?

Also, I really like your site. Keep up the good work!


With google one needs to be patient. Google algo is unpredictable: you feel good when your site’s traffic goes up but your pull your hair when it goes down instantly. Good luck


Are you used an old domain (already Used) or New? If it’s New domain, how the DA increased Quickly From 0 to 34?



Loving the project so far!

Joined the process a couple of months back, looking forward to the Jan and Feb 2017 updates from the gang. Keep it up everyone!


With google launching panda and penguin update it is has increasingly difficult to rank on Search. I have started looking at other sources for traffic. Good to see that you are still able to rank on Search


Is there a place where they covered which plug-ins they are using? I’m just curious what is standard in good old 2017! Thanks

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