This is Part #1 of a series. A list of all the other updates can be found at the bottom of this post.
I was first introduced to the concept of niche sites by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He ran a “niche site duel” with Tyrone Shum. It was hugely successful, both in terms of the popularity of the competition and the results. Pat’s May 2011 income report shows his niche site, Security Guard Training HQ, bringing in $1,077.72. Pat’s only meaningful source of income from the site at present is Adsense. Not a bad effort – it certainly caught my eye!
Let’s Cut To The Chase
I am not going to waste your time explaining what a niche site is, as it has already been covered in great detail by many others. If you are completely new to niche sites then be sure to check out Pat’s Niche Site Duel Hub. I am skipping all of the preliminaries because I want to get down to the interesting stuff.
In this first article, I am going to reveal what niche I chose and why. In future instalments I will further reveal my strategies, and of course, their benefits (or lack thereof!).
My Niche Site’s Key Statistics
- Site online: 29 days
- Visits: 353
- Google ranking for my primary key phrase: #17
- Gross income generated: £1.46 ($2.37)
Choosing A Niche
This was a toughy. Most of the successful exponents of niche marketing consider key phrase research to be the most important part of the whole endeavour. With that in mind, I read all sorts of guidance on (a) how to come up with niche ideas, and (b) what criteria to apply to chosen key phrases to calculate their viability.
I quickly found out that there is a lot of information out there. Unfortunately, the information is often conflicting. In the end, I decided to take a leap, knowing that my knowledge base was far from wholly developed. Yes, there was (and is) a risk that I would get it all wrong, but as far as I am concerned, the best learning is in doing. I am a big fan of trial by fire. You can read about niche site development all day, but that won’t get the niche site built!
Even if this site fails I feel I will have progressed, as long as I can then dive into the next one with far more knowledge as to how to succeed. I am definitely looking long-term with this venture, so a failure say three months in isn’t going to halt my momentum. I believe that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in life, let alone business, is to not persist. Persistence is so often the key to success.
Niche Site Research Resources
I recommend two guys when it comes to advice on researching your niche site key phrase (and for any other advice on niche sites, for that matter): Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Glen Allsopp of ViperChill. You can check out Pat’s Niche Site Duel Hub as I mentioned above. With impeccable timing, Glen has just published an in-depth article on keyword research, and I strongly recommend that you check it out: “The Ultimate Guide To Keyword Research”. Be sure to brew yourself a cup of tea before you sit down to read it!
But I digress – back to my story. After a couple of hours of research, considering key phrases as wide ranging as “shin splints” to “property investment” (my day job), I settled on my choice…
A bit out of left field, I know. The journey to this key phrase wasn’t particularly linear – I believe you should explore all angles when it comes to keyword research, as you never know what might pop up. I started by looking at “teacher training”, which led to “training to model”, which led to “child modeling”. A less competitive variant of “child modeling” was “modeling for kids”.
As a quick aside, most of the screenshots you will see on this article are from Market Samurai (not an affiliate link – why?), which I strongly recommend if you are getting into niche sites. The screenshot below reveals my key phrase’s vital statistics:
Those are results based upon an exact match. A broad match returns 40,500 monthly searches. My gut tells me that there is a lot of potential in this niche if you can rank for various associated key phrases. For instance, if I can rank well for “modeling for kids” and “child modeling” as well as various long tail keywords, the potential search traffic could be considerable.
I was relatively pleased with the level of competition for my chosen key phrase, shown below:
I won’t delve into the intricacies of Market Samurai here (as they have a great resource over at the Noble Samurai Dojo that does a much better job than I could), but I will point out the few key elements that I considered:
- Domain Age: for some reason the screenshot has not displayed the domain age, but the results aren’t great. All sites are four years or older. However, I was happy that the 1st spot managed to rank at the top with just a 5 year old domain. It was out-ranking 10+ year old sites. By that logic, there is room for me to outrank a mere 5 year old site if I can optimize well and offer quality content.
- Page Rank: nothing too scary here, and the number one spot only has a PR of 1.
- Index Count: only three sites have a significant number of pages – I’m only 29 days in and already have a higher index count than the majority of the top 10.
- Backlinks: again, nothing to worry about here. I already have the fifth most number of backlinks out of the top 10.
- Meta Tag Optimization: none of the top 10 sites are well optimized for my key phrase.
Overall, I think that I have a decent chance of toppling these guys. Only time will tell!
Four Simple Steps To Niche Site Success
Okay, I am being facetious. The steps may be simple to discuss, but they are far from easy to implement.
As mentioned above, this is the most important part of the whole process. Unfortunately, I am a bit concerned that I may have made a couple of mistakes in my research. I am concerned about (a) the competitiveness of the top 10 and (b) the value of the key phrase (i.e. is the Adwords cost per click high, and do people with commercial intent search for that key phrase?). Those are essentially the two key factors when it comes to key phrase research (although there are others). Nonetheless I will soldier on, because even if I do fail, the process followed in failing will have taught me a great deal.
When it comes to content, I plan to follow two very simple principles – quantity and quality. There are many different niche site strategies out there – you will probably read a lot about “set it and forget it” sites. I am not a fan of this method. I would much prefer to create a loyal community by offering quality content, and plenty of it. I think that this can potentially lead to greater long-term benefits.
29 days ago, I knew absolutely nothing about child modeling. It is not a topic that interested me in the slightest. Having now written 18 articles on the topic, I am pleased to say that it has not actually been that painful at all.
I don’t fully agree with the argument that you must be passionate about your niche in order to succeed. Perhaps that is more down to my character; I enjoy researching and writing articles in general, which obviously helps a great deal.
In terms of research, I bought a couple of books and scoured the internet for all things child modeling. One thing that became clear is that there is absolutely no competition out there in terms of a hub website offering quality guidance on child modeling. I will definitely look to exploit this.
I have tried a few strategies so far. I have closely followed Pat Flynn’s backlinking strategy (see “THE Backlinking Strategy That Works”), which appears to have got me plenty of backlinks (around 750 as of today). I have commented on blogs. I have introduced myself at a couple of child modeling forums, which has attracted decent traffic, but nothing that will ever set the world alight. The key is definitely in my Google ranking, which has been stuck in the high teens for a couple of weeks now.
I am quite pleased with my ranking at this stage, as my site is well optimised for my chosen key phrase and the quality and depth of content is increasing week by week. Although my ranking has not moved considerably for a couple of weeks, I am not concerned. I fired off a quick email to Pat Flynn a while ago, and he assured me that he had exactly the same experience with his niche site. I think my patience will pay off.
I also have a couple of additional strategies that I am either planning to employ or am currently experimenting with, which I will report back on in a later article.
Perhaps confusingly, monetization is the least of my worries right now. I think too many would-be entrepreneurs are too concerned with earning a quick buck. At this point, income is not the most important factor – traffic is. If you have traffic, the income will follow, as long as you carry out an effective monetization strategy.
So for the time being, I am not paying much attention to monetization. Yes, I have Adsense on my website, but I have put little thought into placement. Once I start to attract a decent amount of traffic, I will look to develop my monetization strategy. I already have a few ideas, which I will reveal in a later article.
It doesn’t hurt to say this twice: don’t get too caught up in trying to monetize your site in the early days. The level of traffic won’t warrant the effort; you should be focusing your efforts on content and marketing.
Simply put, rinse and repeat. I will continue to add three new articles every week and work on my marketing strategies. At this point I am not putting countless hours into the project – perhaps an hour a day. The start-up time taken was considerably more involved, but I think I am over that hill now.
As I have already stated, I am not concerned about my positioning at this stage. I am happy to bide my time, whilst remaining focused on the task at hand.
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Read The Whole Series
- Update #1 – One Month In
- Update #2 – Metrics And Keyword Analysis
- Update #3 – Failure! Failure?
- Update #4 – The Power Of The Long Tail
- Update #5 – The Power Of Targeted Traffic
- Update #6 – We’re Number One!
- Update #7 – Disaster Strikes
- Update #8 – Phoenix From The Flames
- Update #9 – A Fresh Approach