Podcast 138: Niche Site Project 4 Update for September 2018

By Spencer Haws |

Today I've got another update for Niche Site Project 4!  This episode is Jake, Jason, and I discussing the latest monthly report for the project.



Spencer: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. I’m your host, . We’ve got another exciting episode here, we’re going to give an update on the Niche Site Project 4–the site that I have been working on. In particular, I’m going to talk about what I’ve been doing over the last month with the site. 

It’s honestly only been live for about a month. I bought the domain name at the end of, what was it, August, essentially? It hasn’t been up for that long, it’s only been a month and a half, but I want to give an update on the site. I can’t do anything properly without my co-host here. So I got both Jake and Jason with me here today. How are you guys doing? 

Jake: Hey, doing great. Thanks for having us on. 

Jason: Yup, doing great as well. Thanks! 

Spencer: Very good. Yup, it’s good to have you guys back. Jake, I think the last time we did one, you were on vacation. It was just Jason and I, but the three of us are here ready to rock and roll with this one. No official format for this, it’s just sort of the three of us going to be chatting about what I’ve done on the Niche Site that I’ve been building over the last little while. I put together a few questions that I thought people listening might have of their own. We’re going to do our best to read your minds and ask the questions that you guys would want to know about the site that I’ve been building. 

We’re just going to roll through those. So there’s some interaction here, I’m going to let Jake and Jason ask some questions, I’m going to answer those about the site, and they’re going to have any follow-ups because quite honestly—and you guys can correct me if I’m wrong—for the most part, you guys really haven’t done anything on this Niche Site. I pretty much built it all. I bounced ideas off you guys, but I’ve really been very hands on with this site because well, it’s Niche Site Project 4–I want to make sure I’m well aware of what’s going on. I want it to do well because it’s such a public case study. 

With that preview, what are some questions that you guys think people would be asking? Of course, I’ve put some down here, but you’re welcome to ask other questions that aren’t here. Let’s, maybe Jake, I’ll let you dive in. 

Jake: Sure. 

Spencer: Ask us some questions. Go on. 

Jake: I’m getting a strong feeling there’s a listener from Massachusetts that has a question. Hang on, honing in. One of the questions that I’m sure everybody wants to know is, are you making any money yet? Any dollars earned from the site? 

Spencer: Oh, man. I knew you were going to ask that, Jake. No. Unfortunately, no earnings yet. The site has gotten a few clicks on my Amazon affiliate links, but no official earnings yet. I’m really not disappointed with that. That’s pretty much to be expected. Like I said, the first visitor to the site came in the first week of September. Really, only about three weeks that I even have any visitors coming to the site. It’s to be expected that for the first couple of months. I may not even have earnings this month either and October. I’m hopeful that I’d get my first affiliate commission, but nothing yet. 

I don't know. What’s your guys’ thoughts? I know we’ve talked about this on the podcast before. But when should I expect my first amount of earnings or first affiliate commission? 

Jake: You know, once you start getting clicks from Amazon, it’s just a matter of time. A lot of times, when people get over there they just end up buying stuff. I don’t know. When you think about conversion rate there, maybe 6%, 7%, 8%, 9%, 10% something like that, it’s a rough range of people you send over. It’s just a math game. You might see this for a few bucks, sooner rather than later, but it’s definitely going to take several months from now, I think, to do anything insignificant. But it’s always cool when you’re doing a site and you see that first dollar come in. It’s a pretty gratifying feeling. 

Spencer: Yup, it is. That’s for people listening in as well–stay motivated. The first month, you’re probably not going to see anything. The second month, you might not see anything. But after that, you should start seeing the clicks and hopefully, get some earnings. That’s the spot, still sitting at $0 in earnings. What else you got for me, Jason? 

Jason: How much content do you have on the site so far, Spencer? 

Spencer: I officially have published—I’m looking at my WordPress log in now—got 24 articles published live on the site. 

Jason: How does it breakdown as far as the types of stuff that you’re putting out there? Is it all affiliate stuff? Are you starting out with a mix? What’s your strategy on that? 

Spencer: I do have a mix. I’m probably pretty close to 50-50 between stuff that’s straight affiliate like best product, whatever. Those types of buying guides, reviews. And then the other half is more image heavy, round-up type articles where I’m saying, “Here’s whatever, some ideas for this.” 50-50 right now–that’s kind of what I’m going to shoot for going forward. Again, it’s not an exact ratio, but I’m definitely not just doing affiliate content, keeping a pretty good mix of different types of articles. 

Let’s keep going down the line here. 

Jake: Cool. Jason, you want to take it? 

Jason: Where are you finding your authors, Spencer? 

Spencer: I have four total authors that are writing on the site right now. Two of those are through Upwork. Just posted a regular Upwork job posting, looked for hourly authors, so those two are hourly people. I’m paying them, I believe, they’re both $15 an hour. I have to double check, one of them might be a little like, like $12 or $13. They’re doing a good job. The other two, believe it or not, came through Facebook. Essentially, through the Niche Pursuits Facebook group. People there heard I was doing the Niche Site 4 Project. They reached out, had some back and forth, found a couple of good authors, so they are writing for me as well. 

Jake: Oh, cool. Nice. 

Jason: It’s awesome. 

Spencer: Yup. They’re doing a good job. One of them in particular is great. She’s amazing. I’m paying her a little bit more. Now that I’ve got a system down, I’m starting to crank out content quite a bit faster. October is going to be a lot of content, that’s going to be a big focus. 

Jake: I’m just curious on the hourly folks, I know we talked a little bit about doing that in one of our recent webinars, you think you’re getting good value for your money there as far as how much output they’re putting for what you’re paying per hour instead of per word or something like that? 

Spencer: Yeah, I do. I feel it’s coming out closer to ¢3 per word with the hourly people. 

Jake: Nice. 

Spencer: They’re spending, let’s call it four hours on a 2000 or 3000-word article; four-five hours on a 2000-3000 word article. It’s coming out close to ¢3 a word in a lot of cases. Sometimes, even a little bit less, just depends. I feel like I’m getting a lot of value there. It’s really hard to find an author that’s decent for ¢2-¢3 a word. I think they’re doing a good job so I’m happy. 

Jake: Nice. Cool. Is that translating in any traffic on the site yet? Any Google traffic or traffic for any other sources coming in at all? 

Spencer: Yes. There is some traffic coming in. I should have my analytics here pulled up, ready to go, but there’s been a total of, I want to say, just over 200 sessions. I need to break that down. A lot of that, probably half of that, is just me and authors, and you guys coming through the site. There’s maybe been 100 individuals, something like that, which is pretty cool that have come to the site. There is some Google traffic, not a lot. We’re probably talking like 10 visitors from Google. Actually, another 20 plus from Bing. It seems like Bing is picking-up the site a lot faster. If I recall, it seems that’s kind of normal, Bing picks things up really quick, and then Google takes a little bit more time to come out of their sandbox, I guess. 

Jake: Cool. 

Spencer: But yeah, that’s sort of where I’m at, like 30-ish visitors from search engines and then another 100-ish from just other places. 

Jake: Nice. 

Jason: It’s awesome. Spencer, have you done any link building or any type of promotion yet? 

Spencer: The only type of promotion—if you even want to call it that—is I have left a few blog comments on a few blogs that are related. Almost more of just a way to get to know bloggers that are in my niche, just leaving a comment, and then I need to go back and email them, reach out, and try to develop a connection there. When I say a few blog comments, like a few, maybe five or six blog comments that I’ve left and no other link building at all. 

I have noticed that in Ahrefs, I am starting to get some links, but those are just purely—up to this point—I believe they’re purely just trackbacks. If people listening don’t know what those are, essentially, on my site and I’ve referenced these other blogs and they will automatically ping back or trackback, leave a no-follow lead back to my site, sort of on that article that I linked to. I’ve got several of those but nothing that I went out or try to get or anything like that. Just a few blog comments and that’s about it. 

Jake: Cool. What’s next, as far as just strategies, whether it be link building or growth opportunities? What’s on the horizon for the next month or so? 

Spencer: I am working on Pinterest. I’ve got somebody that is developing a brand guide. They’re putting together how my pins should look and they’re going to get me all set-up on Pinterest, make sure I’m doing it right. Because I am doing a lot of, as I referenced earlier, a lot of image-heavy articles, and so I want to have a strong presence on Pinterest. I think this week, they’re going to be done and have me set-up on Pinterest, and then I can start knocking out lots of pins. I do plan on actually trying to create some of my pins, so we’ll see how that goes. Break out my designer hat in Canva… 

Jake: Cool. 

Spencer: …and create some of my own pins and start getting that up. That’s the next step for me is getting active on Pinterest. I expect a lot more traffic. Hopefully, it starts coming in from there and maybe some residual links coming from there as well. 

But then the other strategy for this month, again, just focusing on content, getting a lot of that out there, making sure my four authors are cranking out that content, so I’d probably do another 20 articles this month or something like that. I’m hoping, I’ve got a couple more traditional link building strategies in mind that by the end of the month, I hope to start reaching out to a lot of other bloggers in the space.  

I think I have a couple of ideas. I won’t get go into what those are because well, I don’t want to waste any time on discussing something that may or may not happen. Once I actually do it, I’ll share what I’m doing and if it’s working. By the end of this month, I do plan on doing more outreach and connecting with other bloggers hopefully to get some links to the site. I think that’s the plan–roughly for this month. 

Jason: That’s awesome. 

Spencer: Yeah, I don’t know. What do you guys think? Any tips or advice? I’m here officially in month two, second full month that I’ll be doing. Anything else that you think I should be looking at, focusing on? I mean, you guys got successful sites. 

Jason: Yeah, Spencer. When you’re doing your blog commenting and just trying to build those relationships, are you doing it with the goal of trying to get guest posting opportunities later or just building your name, building your brand? 

Spencer: Maybe not necessarily guest posting, but certainly, connecting with the blogger for potential cross-promotional opportunities or they could lead to a link down the road. That really is the main idea. Some of it is that it’s nice to sort of have what I call a base layer of links. It’s okay to have a few blog comments out there that have some diversity of, even if it’s no-follow links, different sites linking to you. Google likes to see some diversity there, but I don’t really expect it to like boost me, boost my rankings a lot just with the blog comments. 

Jason: Awesome. 

Jake: I think you’re in the right track. I’m interested to see how it goes with the Pinterest stuff. I know, for you, I think you would consider yourself a Pinterest newbie. I mean, you’ve got some sites that benefit from it, but as far as your level of expertise there, that’s sort of a new venture for you. Hopefully, that will pay off, I think in Google and getting traffic a little bit sooner than expected, so I’m excited to see how that goes. 

Spencer: Yeah, me too. It should be interesting. It’s funny, even though I actually own a site, I mean I own a mom blog that we’ve talked about, I own a site that gets over 10,000 visitors a day from Pinterest, I’m not doing any other. It’s very hands off, I’ve hired people to do it, and so, you’re right that for me, I really am a newbie as far as hands on, doing it. I’m going to dive in with this new Niche Site. I’m going to be pinning stuff, creating the pins. Yeah, I think I’m going to learn a ton by actually doing it myself. Because I have a site that does well on Pinterest, I can sort of see the strategies that work and don’t work, and hopefully apply it here. But you never know until you actually do it. 

Jake: Right. Cool, man. Sounds good. 

Spencer: It’s been a little while since I’ve built a site from scratch, I’ve been buying sites for the last year and that sort of thing. But I’ve just been reminded of how much there is to do when you start a site from scratch in terms of tweaking the themes, getting it all set up, getting your menus and sidebars and categories all set up just the way you want them, the colors in your logo–there’s a lot. I’ve spent, it feels like weeks, just getting my theme where I like it, the way it looks. There is just a lot of that. In the first month, there’s a lot of hours spent just tweaking, doing little things that I haven’t thought about when I’ve been buying sites. It’s just, they’re already there and they’re good. 

Jake: Yup. It’s funny you say that. It’s like something I always try to advice people to not do, is what you just said is, spend 20 hours tweaking every color, getting the theme just right before anybody is even coming to your site. I’m always saying, “Hey, get the traffic, spend your time on the content, the high-value stuff.” Of course, you’re outsourcing that in your case. “Worry about getting it perfect when you’ve got 500 people a day coming to see your stuff.” 

Spencer: I failed once. 

Jake: I’m just saying that for those listening that are truly doing it all themselves. 

Jason: Right. 

Jake: Don’t get too hung-up on the aesthetic when you’re just starting out because you’re exactly right, there are a ton of little pieces. It’s one of those things where it could take an infinite amount of hours. You could tweak it forever. A lot of people get stuck there and they don’t progress on the stuff that really is valuable stuff. Don’t let that you. 

Spencer: I agree. That’s very true. I kind of did stuff in tandem. I’ve got content being put up while I’m tweaking things and everything like that. But there’s a lot, there’s a lot that goes into building a new site but now that’s done, the site is established, it’s in place, I’ve got writers, I think things are going to move along pretty quickly. I think things will get very interesting in the next couple of months. 

Hang-in there guys, it should be a fun ride. Niche Site Project 4 is well underway here. But I just wanted to record this episode to give you guys an update what I’m working on. I am still working on it. I know I don’t have a chance to record this podcast daily and let you know what I’m doing, but it is a daily thing. I’m working on the site, building it out, and I’m excited to see where it goes. Any final thoughts from either of you guys, Jake or Jason before we wrap it up here? 

Jake: Not for me. 

Jason: Nope, not for me either. 

Spencer: Alright. Very good. Appreciate you guys asking me such thoughtful questions. It’s been great. Everybody listening in, I appreciate you listening in, and goodluck with your own Niche Sites. Thanks a lot guys. 

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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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