Last week, I posted a request for niche site success stories. I wanted others to have a chance to share their own accomplishments that they’ve had building and ranking sites in Google.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the great stories sent in to me so far; and today I am going to share the very first one sent in by Mark N. from Poland.
Mark’s Success Story
What I love about Mark’s story below is how quickly he has been able to get up and running after just 2 months! Now Mark isn’t making a huge amount of income just yet, but the ball is rolling in the right direction…and he’s tasted that first piece of success.
In addition, he shares lots of great link building and other tips that are sure to motivate you as you seek to build and profit from niche sites.
So, here are Mark’s answers to my 10 questions:
Hi Spencer, this is Mark. I’d like to send in my own story, I’ve only been
at this for 2 months but I’m already seeing very promising results, and
while I’m not seeing hundreds of dollars of income yet, I think it’s just a
matter of 1-2 months tops before this happens, and from there things will
snowball pretty heavily. Onto your questions:
1. What is your name and current job/profession?
My name is Mark, I live in Poland. I don’t have a job at all right now;
used to be a professional poker player but stopped around 6 months ago due
to some online gambling legal issues in my country. I have some money put
away, and decided that rather than finding a new job I would give the niche
website thing a go, working on it full time for at least 5 months to see
what I can achieve, and after that I would see if I need to get a job or if
I can continue building websites full time. Keep in mind that here in
Poland it’s enough to make $700 a month to have a pretty decent life.
2. How did you get started building niche websites? How long have you
been building websites?
I got started not two months ago (April 30th 2013), when I discovered your
Public Niche Site project. I had some experience building websites
previously, however these were only for fun and I never built any of them
with the intention of monetizing, nor did I do any SEO work for any of
So I felt comfortable with WordPress and general content management,
but everything else I had to learn. I made it a goal to only learn from
your website and not visit any other similar sites because I didn’t want to
get distracted – granted I could learn some extra stuff by hearing what
other professionals have to say, however I was worried that doing so would
cause some doubts to build up in my mind due to different people having
different opinions on what works and what doesn’t. So I simply decided to
stick with your site exclusively and not waste unnecessary time on
“information hoarding,” if that makes sense.
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.
After what happened to your Public Niche Site (the negative SEO), I’m
definitely not comfortable sharing the URL nor the niche that I started
with. However, I can say that it is related to the survival industry, and
the items sold are in the $50 – $200 price range.
This is my first niche site and is being monetized through Amazon Associates (a “best” and
“reviews” type of site), however I do have 8 other sites that I’m working
on right now as well, some of which will be monetized through Amazon while
others through AdSense. Right now, I’m only making money from the first
site as I’ve put a lot of time into it while neglecting the other ones, but
I’m correcting this mistake as we “speak.”
4. How much money do you make from this successful website(s) each month?
The website went “live” in the first week of May 2013, started seeing some
search engine traffic around a week later. In May 2013, the website made
$30. This month (June 2013), it has already made $110, and there is still a
full week to go before the month is over (it’s June 23rd as I write this).
Looking at how my traffic is growing, I expect the site to make a minimum
of $250 in July 2013, in addition to what the remaining sites I’m working
on will start to earn.
5. What is the reason for this website’s success?
a) I found a decent niche
b) I put a lot of time into making this website THE online resource for
anyone looking for information on the subject. I’m 100% confident that no
other website on the web is as valuable on the topic as mine is. Below are
some screenshots showcasing the site’s performance:
This demonstrates my dwell time / bounce rate over the past 10 days:
This demonstrates the growth in traffic since the launch of the site:
c) great internal linking between articles. If you look at my Bounce Rate
in the screenshot above, you’ll see what kind of difference this makes.
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.
I found the niche by taking a look at titles of some Hobby books on Amazon,
and based on that came up with a list of a few interesting hobbies that
would form good seed keywords. It took me around 30 minutes to find the
first keyword. It was a very low traffic keyword (720 local monthly
searches in Google), but I wanted to get started small. The top 5 results
in Google for that keyword were all forum threads and one super-thin
affiliate site with an exact match domain that had 0 backlinks, spun
content, and was nothing more than a gateway site to eBay – zero value.
The other keywords that I’m working with right now have 2000 to 6000
monthly local searches and are also quite low competition. I currently have
a list of over 40 keywords which are all potential winners, just don’t have
the time to handle them all yet, especially since I’m not willing to
outsource anything yet (I want to learn the ropes by doing everything by
myself first). Once you find the first few keywords and build a few sites,
finding new keywords becomes really, really easy – you have some much data
to work with from Google Analytics, Amazon sales etc. that the keywords
basically start knocking on your door.
This main site is similar in concept to your Best Survival Knife Guide,and
it’s being monetized through Amazon Affiliates. However, since I had a lot
of time to work on it exclusively I’ve made it as close to perfect as
possible. I used CrazyEgg.com to do some A/B testing and come up with
different content positioning and such, with the hope that what I learn
will benefit all my other sites. Right now the website has 40 articles. The
front page is a “mega” article with 3200 words (excluding words from
comments at the bottom of the page).
As for link building – since I don’t want to make this section too long,
I’ll answer this one in the next question.
7. What link-building tips can you offer?
Apart from choosing a low competition keyword (which is a concept we’ve all
had hammered into our heads by Spencer, and for good reason), I think the
most important thing is diversity.
The way I see it, web 2.0 properties, decent Wiki links and relevant forum
comments are the staple. However, I like to diversify things as much as
possible, but also make sure that each of my links is accompanied by high
quality content. For instance, I don’t spin my articles as I find a good
spin takes way too much time (at least by my definition of “good”). I make
sure that even if one of my backlinks was manually reviewed by a Google
Spam Prevention person then they would not find the source of the link
questionable. So rather than spin, I just do solid by-hand re-writes of
good articles I find online. I’m a fast typist, so I can re-write a 500-600
word article in 6-7 minutes. I make sure my Web 2.0’s have at least 2
articles each – most have 3. Some have 4.
My goal is also to try and get at least one link from Wikipedia.org. What I
did was went quickly through articles relevant to my niche on Wikipedia,
found some sort of information that was missing or which could benefit from
more elaboration, and then wrote and posted an article on my site
exclusively for that purpose. I’ve done this for 2 sites so far and in both
cases my link has stuck on Wikipedia for 6 weeks now and has not been
removed, despite the articles being high traffic ones with lots of
attention. I don’t really care that these links are nofollow; I might not
know if this helps my Google rankings, but I do know that each of those
links is bringing me approximately 10 unique visitors per day, some of whom
are Social Sharing my content etc. It’s worth it no matter what the SEO
benefits of such a link might be.
As for other Wiki’s, I basically search for this in Google:* inurl:wiki
This let’s me find some relevant wikis where I drop a few links where
Apart from Web 2.0 and Wikis, I get some other backlikns for diversity
(usually a few links per source). Here are the other sources that I use:
1) Niche-related blog comments
2) Non-Niche-Related DoFollow blog comments (just a few)
3) RSS feed submissions
4) Doc submissions
5) Image submissions
6) Video submissions (I make a simple slideshow that quickly answers a
niche-related question and post it onto YouTube and such, with a link to my
site in the description – takes 5 minute sto make the video)
7) A few article directory posts
8) A few Website Directory submissions (only high quality directories)
9) One submission to a niche-related Website Directory (if I manage to find
10) One or two Forum Posts (not forum profile links, but an actual link in
the forum thread). Forums often have “DoFollow” on outbound links within
the post itself and I try to find a forum thread that appears in Google for
my targeted keyword (even if it’s not on the first page), and that’s where
I attempt to add my link.
11) Around 40 Social Bookmarking Submissions (only high quality sites)
This looks like a lot I know, but once you get the hang of how all these
platforms work you can do it all pretty quickly. It took me around 15 hours
total to do all the backlinking for my first niche site manually, including
the time it took me to re-write articles for the Web 2.0’s.
One thing I also do is I will sometimes post more than one backlink on the
same domain. I know that it “doesn’t count” from a purely ranking
perspective, however I think it’s more natural this way. Most SEO’s are
trying to get only 1 link from each domain and I think that in the case of
a manual review this might look strange, especially where more popular
domains are concerned. So for example, I might get two different properties
on WordPress, and submit my Bookmark more than once to the more popular
bookmarking services (reddit, digg etc.). That’s just a personal preference
I make sure my website includes extra content that is of extremely high
quality to the end user, even if it’s not going to directly convert into
sales. This type of content has the chance to generate natural backlinks
(and it’s already happening for me), so it’s definitely worth it.
Don’t worry about on-page keyword density. Make sure your main keyword
appears a few times (especially in the Title / meta description /
subheadings), but that’s about it. Also, don’t worry about having too high
of a keyword density as I don’t believe this can be an issue if your
content is written naturally. If you want proof, take a look at any
Wikipedia page that is ranking #1 for Google.
Finally, make sure your articles are dense with keywords related to your
niche. To illustrate what I mean, here is a random paragraph from a
Wikipedia article on survival knives, followed by a random paragraph from
another website on survival knives (not Spencer’s site). I have highlighted
in *bold *in each case the words which are related to the main keyword:
*Survival knives* are designed for work such as *setting traps*, *cutting
branches* and *skinning animals*. Most *survival knives* have *blades *that
are *10cm to 20cm long* with a *full thick tang*. *Survival knives*
*, *Lile*, *Parrish*, *Randall*, or *Reeve *have *hollow handles*, which
allow the user to store additional *equipment in the handle*. Some of these
*knives *feature a *compass *in the *cap*.
*I have the privilege of *strapping a survival knife* to my hip on almost a
daily basis here at Willow Haven. I completely understand, though, that
this isn’t practical for most. At a minimum, a *survival knife* should be
kept accessible. You might be surprised how often you’ll use it–even if not
in a *survival *situation. I never travel without my *survival knife*. I
pack it in my checked baggage on the plane.*
See the difference between the two? Guess which of the two articles will
carry more relevancy to the subject of “survival knives” in the “eyes” of
the search engines? I see this all too often with niche sites – the person
writing the article has so little knowledge of the subject at hand, that he
is only capable of using the main keyword within the article, while almost
everything else in the article is “filler” text not related to the subject
Actually if you take a closer look at Wikipedia articles, they are all
jam-packed with such related keywords. No filler text AT ALL.
8. How has the success from this website impacted your life?
It’s too early to answer this one yet, but I can say that it has made me
confident that I can make a living out of building websites. It’s just a
matter of time.
9. Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to
replicate your success with their own websites?
One piece of advice that I’d like to give for people who are building an
affiliate-based website is to try and go for items that do not require a
lot of researching on the part of the end-user. I made the mistake of not
paying attention to this, and as a result I believe I’m making far less
money with this first niche website than I actually could be making.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
*Good Example: Survival Knifes* – a great choice. A knife is a knife, it
has a fairly simple construction, there isn’t much to consider other than
the length/material/price. A buying decision can be reached relatively
quickly, often on the spot.
*Not So Good Example: Fishing Rod.* even though the item itself is cheap, a
person interested in fishing likely isn’t going to reach a buying decision
quickly. Other than the rod, he must research what kind of reel to buy to
go with the rod, how the different materials of the rod will impact his
fishing experience, what size should the rod be, what hooks to get etc.
(and he would probably like to buy all of these things at the same time,
which might not be possible on Amazon in some cases due to lack of certain
items, so he’ll go to a different store).
Of course, you can provide all of
this information on your website, but this will require a ton of work (and
it’s actually what I had to do for my own niche website), and even then the
customer will still probably have a lot of questions in his mind that will
need answering before he finally buys. All of this can be avoided by simply
choosing a “simpler” item.
And one more thing: don’t be afraid to start an affiliate niche site that
sells very cheap items (like $1-$2 a piece). While you probably won’t make
any decent money from such a website, it will still increase your number of
monthly sold items on Amazon, thereby giving you a higher commission rate
on the other, more expensive items that you sell on other sites.
10. Do you have a blog or other place that people can following along with
what you are doing?
No, and I don’t plan on starting one. But thanks for asking 🙂
I’d like to add that you really should focus on the quality of your website
/ content / reviews. It really does make a difference, and to illustrate
this, here is a copy/paste of an e-mail that I’ve received from a visitor
who came to my site. Sorry about the censoring, but I needed to make sure
that no information identifying my niche would be available:
*I have been researching [[keyword-related]] for about a month now. I was
having a real hard time finding a good website with solid, useful
information. Most of the info I found were just simple customer reviews,
usually a sentence or two and usually written by novices with little
experience. I found your site a breath of fresh air, you give good,
insightful comments with a lot of “meat”. I now feel confident throwing
down the $350 for the [[keyword-related]]. I was originally going to
purchase an inexpensive [[keyword-related]] and then upgrade later but I
changed my mind after reading your reviews. The [[keyword-related]] has
everything going for it and I wont need to upgrade in the future. I can
learn and get good a product that will last for years and years! Thank you
again for the great information and for your insightful comments. I will be
sure to tell everyone I know about your site. I also frequent a lot of
[[keyword-related]] online forums. I will be sure to post links to your
site along with a message informing everyone about the wealth of info
available from your site and your helpful professional attitude.
In short, this person trusted the content on my website so much that he
decided to purchase a $350 item instead of a $120 item (in the end he
didn’t actually purchase it through my affiliate link, but that’s
Don’t let all the link building and “monetization strategies” distract you
from creating useful content that can’t be found anywhere else.
This took quite a long time to write, so I better get back to writing
content for my sites 🙂
Thank you Mark for sharing your story! If anyone has any questions or comments, please leave them below.