This is a guest post written by Tom Ewer from LeavingWorkBehind.com. I think this is a great post for anyone looking for an alternative to niche sites. Personally, niche sites have worked very well for me and continue to earn well for me. They are a great business. However, Tom makes some very valid points that blogging may be a better choice for some people. I agree! In fact, NichePursuits.com has become the heart of my business in a lot of ways, and I can certainly attribute a lot of my success outside of niche sites directly to my blog here. Anyway, here's Tom's thoughts…
When I first decided that I wanted to quit my job back in May 2011, I dreamed of niche site success.
I invested an enormous amount of time and money in building a number of niche sites, but ultimately, it didn't work out. I failed.
I'm not here to tell you that niche sites don't work – Spencer would have my neck if I did! But I am here to say that I quit my job six months ago and already earn a healthy full time income, despite my failure with niche sites.
Although I started with niche sites, in the end, my success came from somewhere completely unexpected.
Niche Sites as a Business Model
There is something very appealing about niche sites as a business model:
- There are no customers to deal with
- The income is relatively passive
- It doesn't require a large financial investment
In this age of the Four Hour Work Week, it seems like a dream come true, does it not?
Not only that, people like Spencer have shown that great things are possible with a lot of hard work and application.
However, there is a sinister side to niche sites:
- They are highly volatile assets
- The success rate in terms of ranking are low
- There is no guarantee of success
- Poor income diversity
- You lack control
There are of course arguments against these downsides (for instance, this post by Spencer refutes the issue of success rate). But you would be missing the point in trying to pick my points apart.
The fact is, I don't think anyone in this day and age would advise that niche sites alone are a solid business model. Spencer's (wise) eagerness to diversify his income streams is testament to that.
Ultimately, when it came to quitting my job, I knew that I wouldn't be comfortable in relying upon niche sites as my primary source of income (which is a good thing, given that I failed miserably with them ;)). Even if I had built up a good level of income, it could have disappeared overnight.
Yep – that old nugget. I know that it's a well-worn topic, but well-worn for the wrong reasons.
When I say blogging, I am not trying to sell the a-list Pat Flynn style megabucks dream (although you've got to take your hat off to him). I'm trying to sell something realistic.
Don't get me wrong – many of us probably have the potential to reach Pat Flynn's level, but it takes many steps (not to mention a lot of dedication and perseverance) to get there. I want to focus on the first couple of steps, and what that can do for you.
Here are my two key points:
- You do not need a huge blog to make a good living.
- A blog allows you to exploit multiple income streams and build a continuously appreciating asset.
I decided to quit my job because I saw the potential of freelance writing as a fitting business model for me. However, I was able to establish a full time income because my blog brings in a steady trickle of referrals from prospective clients (without me really even trying to attract them).
Not only that, but my little blog also generates a modest affiliate income (which is on the rise), and in the future I plan to release a product, which will add yet another string to my income bow. And all of that is without me exploring other potential streams of income, such as advertising, or coaching.
I am not a remarkable person – I consider myself fairly average. And yet in just 12 months I have gone from barely ever having read a blog, to having one at the heart of my business. And I managed to do this without actually having a clear understanding of what I was trying to achieve with it up until just a few weeks ago.
What to Do?
It is not the intention of this post to teach you how to make money blogging – more to convince you that it is possible to leverage a blog to achieve awesome things (both directly and indirectly).
Having said that, you may need a nudge in the right direction. So here are a few brief case studies, picked from my LWB 100 list:
- Think Traffic: Corbett Barr has built a business around his blog – he most recently released the hugely successful How to Start a Blog that Matters course.
- Man vs. Debt: what started out as a modest personal finance accountability journal for Adam Baker has become a behemoth in the blogosphere, most recently allowing him to successfully seek financial backing for his own documentary.
- Ruth Zive Copywriting: Ruth uses her blog as a means of attracting new clients for her freelance writing business.
As the rather unsavory expression goes, there are many ways to skin a cat, and blogging is a compelling example of that analogy in action.
I decided to quit my job 13 months ago, and immediately started working on niche sites, with a view to that being my exit route from employment. I launched my blog one month later, and Leaving Work Behind prevailed as the tool that led me to successfully quitting my job.
Niche sites have been proven as a great potential source of income, but they are not the only solution, and may not be the best solution for you.
So if you are like I was a few months ago (obsessed with the dream of passive income and blinkered to all other possibilities), perhaps now could be the time to reconsider your options.