When I first got started building websites, I would scour the internet looking for success stories. I wanted to find real stories of real people making real money through websites they had built. For some reason all of us (well, at least me) want to see that someone else is really doing well, before we jump into something with two feet.
For that reason, I've created a series of success stories of people building niche websites! You no longer need to scour the internet hoping to find others sharing their success, you can find all the success stories on my blog right here! (If you have a success story that you would like to share, please read the guidelines right here).
Today is no different. I am sharing the story of Nick LeRoy from NickLeroy.com. What I love is that he shares the exact URL of the site he is talking about, so you can go and check it out yourself!
In addition, Nick shares some of the tactics he is using to find keywords, a unique monetization strategy (after getting kick out of Amazon Associates), and the “right and wrong way” to buy links.
And if you read the story carefully, you will know that Nick mentioned he was about to have TWINS! Well, he just informed me that they were indeed born on Tuesday…congrats! I've changed plenty of diapers myself (I'm a father of 3), but I've never changed 2 diapers at once! Good luck with that Nick… 🙂
Nick Leroy's Success Story
1. What is your name and current job/profession?
My name is Nick LeRoy. I work full time as an SEO consultant for various law firms at one of the largest legal marketing firms in the United States. On the side I offer SEO Audits and limited monthly SEO services via my SEO company BackBreakingSEO.com.
2. How did you get started building niche websites? How long have you been building websites?
I have been in the SEO industry since 2008 offering various monthly services to clients. While I still offer these services on a limited basis I moved towards building and ranking my own websites as a way to continue to make money without the stress and anxiety of meeting clients demands. Anyone who's offered SEO services to a company or individual knows that setting the right expectations is absolutely key to a successful campaign.
Unfortunately I've run into too many issues where clients “get it” in the beginning and then forget and get upset when they aren't ranking 30 days after we start. Alternatively, its very frustrating when you get a client to sign on but they are either unwilling or unable to execute your recommendations.
This scenario is much more common with larger companies that have a top / down approval process. Getting title tags updated or even content generated can take months to get approval. With SEO being such a fast pace “game” it's really hard to justify your existence when all your SEO suggestions and action items get stuck in a bottle neck.
So to really answer your question: I've been building websites for myself since around 2010. It started out with a personal SEO blog where the goal was to rank for my name and to build a name for myself within the SEO industry. After years of blogging about SEO (to attract clients) I decided a more passive income is really what my goal was and I switched the entire website to focus on niche website and other personal website projects i've been working on.
The primary reason I made the switch from working exclusively with clients vs my own portfolio of website was simple. If I built my own website and monetized them through various offerings – I only had myself to hold accountable. If content didn't get written or a certain link not built it was my fault. Nobody else's. There simply is no excuse for success.
3. Tell us about one (preferred) or multiple of your successful websites. What is the URL and what niche are you targeting? If you are not willing to publicly share your domain or niche, that’s just fine.
Several months ago (after you published your knife site) I started my first amazon niche website BestCanisterVacuums.net. It's been a wild journey that started out with wordpress tools I've never used before to help pre-populated product pages (WPZonBuilder) to getting kicked out of Amazon Associates for being in a state where they no longer support affiliate marketers (Minnesota). finally, I was able to find another service to kick-start the site again when I thought Amazon all but killed it. (Now using SkimLinks)
4. How much money do you make from this successful website(s) each month?
As of the last few months I have been averaging roughly $400 to $500. This was only after getting the website reconfigured with the SkimLinks affiliate program since I was kicked out of the Amazon affiliate program.
Funny enough, when my site “died” due to Amazon dropping me I panicked and offered to sell it to one of my readers for $200. This was when the website was only generating about $40/m but knew it was climbing the rankings. Thank goodness he turned me down and it forced me to look into other Amazon affiliates.
5. What is the reason for this website’s success?
I attribute the websites success to a few things.
1. Proper keyword research through Long Tail Pro
2. Proper competitive research using Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer and the knowledge I've gained over the years as an SEO.
3. An exact match domain being available.
4. Offering the visitors of the website information and content that they want to read.
Point number 4 I believe is key. Notice that I did not preach the “content is king” montra – simply “what they need”. I don't have to spend hours and hundreds of dollars to write about which vacuum is best for hardwood floors. I can pay a virtual assistant to scour Amazon for product rankings from consumer reviews and then include this information in a “top 5” type post. Quality content can be very beneficial but just remember that it isn't doing you any good if nobody can find it! 🙂
6. Please briefly share your overall strategy for finding a niche, getting traffic to your site, ranking in Google, and making money from niche sites.
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I used Long Tail Pro as my primary research tool to find the niche.
Once I found the niche that I liked I used a lot of Google Suggest data to further build out the website. Using this information helped build out the website a bit more and helps with trickling in additional long tail traffic to the website.
I've also done some backlinking to the website. The most valuable links probably comes directly from my personal blog but a few others have been acquired through guest posting and tiered link building. I'm working on a few expired domains to help get back to the top of the SERPS soon.
This website exclusively makes money from the SkimLinks affiliate program. For those not familiar with the program it is an affiliate that works out an agreement with thousands of merchants and receives a premium commission that is forwarded to SkimLink users.
The only downfall is that SkimLinks takes 25% of your earnings each month. For those that aren't selling thousands of products each month you'll notice that the difference between your commission being at 8.5% and the 25% they take is actually to your benefit. Of course, run the numbers yourself before committing to the program yourself.
7. What link-building tips can you offer?
Link building will always be the most difficult part of making a website profitable. I'm big on guest posts. You can typically reach out to a few people in your industry and secure them fairly easily. I know its not really discussed much here on nichepursuits.com but buying links is also a fairly productive way to gain rank quickly. There really is a “good” way to do this and a “bad” way of doing this.
- Avoid buying links from big name networks or anyone who outwardly advertises link sales. My rule of thumb – if anyone can sign up that means Google can too which makes it a ticking time bomb before the entire network get's de-indexed.
- Avoid any links around text that states “sponsors” or ” our partners” etc.
- Relevancy is key. If you're buying a link for your insurance website you don't want to have the link sandwiched between healthcare or legal content. Make sure the entire theme of the site is relevant to the type of website you want to link back to. IE a baking blog linking to a wedding cake business website.
- Who else are they linking too? If you see outbound links to non related sites then you don't want your link there.
- Was the domain dropped at any point in time? If so look to see what topic the site was about previously. You don't want a link on a website that was about used cars but now has content about baking supplies.
- Avoid buying links that are on the same IP or c-block as other sites linking back to you. This can be an issue if you're buying links from multiple websites from the same owner.
- You do not want to buy links from a website that is linking out to other ‘network' sites. This is a common strategy of individuals that build cheap networks to increase their pagerank.
- Buying websites / blogs outright. Simply look for an outdated website and see if you can contact the owner and buy the website from them. You can easily go in after transferring ownership and add links where appropriate.
- Find guides and tutorials where you can offer to pay the sites owner to allow you to add some new content that would make it “updated”. Of course your willing to compensate them for their time and effort in order to add the new content and add your website as a resource. **Hint Hint**.
- Find a resource or links page that's relevant to your niche. Instead of risking that they MIGHT add your relevant website — offering them some money to make sure it happens.
- Buy expired domains that use to have relevant content and quality backlinking profiles. Resurrect it and add some new content with links back to your website. GoDaddy auctions is a good place to find expired domains. (make sure to follow IP & c-class rules if you do this).
- Pay for a negative review of your website. WARNING make sure you have a solid grasp on your branding and reputation management here. The last thing you want is for this to pop up under your website in the SERPS when people search for your brand. The idea here is that you can get someone to “complain” about your sites service or product and easily slip a link into the content. Who “pays” for a negative review right? You see where this is going right?
8. How has the success from this website impacted your life?
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This particular website hasn't made or broken my life. However, its the entire strategy of making money online that has made a huge impact on mine and my families life. My wife and I have one son and are expecting twins any day now so it's very important that I try to keep things as stable as possible right now.
This particular website has made enough money lately to support the little extras we've needed to buy with 2 more on the way. Cribs, Diapers, and even some cash for a new SUV.
Professionally, this website (and a few other niche websites) have allowed me to take on less SEO clients. This has resulted in less stress for me and more time with my family. Many of the websites that make me money are fairly passive and include only a few hours of directing content writers what/how to write and maybe a few links I personally build here and there.
9. Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to replicate your success with their own websites?
Staying motivated is hard. I always preach on my blog to aim for $100.00 first. $100 pays your cell phone bill and is a noticeable reward for your hard work. If your go into building a website with the idea that you're going to make thousands or millions of dollars then it's very likely you'll get frustrated and give up. Take the small wins. Earn $40 and take your girlfriend out for dinner on Google's / Amazons dime. For me, knowing that I can provide the little extras to my family by “simply” building some websites is enough motivation to succeed.
10. Do you have a blog or other place that people can following along with what you are doing?
I blog about my niche website and website monetization strategies at http://nickleroy.com.
Thanks Nick…And Your Thoughts
Thank you Nick for sharing your success with us! Its always interesting to read about the success that others are having with niche websites or SEO in general.
I hope we can continue the discussion in the comment section below. So, if you have something to say or a question to ask…please do! Nick and I will both try to jump in and respond to as many comments or questions as possible.