“Imitation is the sincerest flattery” – Mohandas Gandhi
Nothing original here, I assume. In fact, I’m not even a pale version of Pat from Smart Passive Income. But he is one of my idols as I am definitely looking forward to making a living from blogging one day. At the beginning of the year, I started to talk a little bit about the creation of niche websites… like Pat did last year (ugh!).
To admit something, way before Pat started to produce niche sites, my partner had this idea. The idea of creating sites requiring low maintenance and providing steady income. Sites that you spend some serious time to build but would grow over time without much additional effort. So this is what we tried (and have failed at miserably several times!) back in early 2009. Yup, 2009!
The main difference between Pat and us was in the execution. It is much harder to successfully apply the techniques when building such sites than it is to learn them. And this is why I failed with my eBook too.
Our very first success with niche websites came after hiring a VA and setting some serious process around it. After a few “okay” sites, we launched What is Dividend. Since June, I haven’t put a single minute into the site and it earns between $50 and $100 per month. So we decided to continue with this model to build more websites.
And here comes the Niche Site Duel Launched by LaTisha @ Financial Success For Young Adults. The goal is simple; one must create a niche website and rank #1 for its keyword in Google.
As it is a great initiative, I wanted to share how I’ve built my latest niche website as I think it will be my biggest success so far (and that I’ll also win the challenge 😉 ). Here are a few rules I have followed to create my site.
Note: this is an extensive 2,000 word article, so don’t skim through it in a hurry. Also, it applies to any kind of topics, not just personal finance (you’ll see the other niche sites from other participants, it is highly diversified!). So you might want to take a look and start your own site, regardless of what your passion is. This may be your best investment of the year! Make sure to bookmark this post and come back from time to time!
There are a lot of people that talk about my business online model as an empire. I really like the sound of that. But what do empires do? They aspire to world domination! After trying different things here and there, we finally found what we want to dominate. We are taking over the dividend investing niche!
Why dividend investing?
Forget about Market Samurai keyword research and other online tactics such as solving a problem or a need. You already know about these techniques and they are pretty good. But, there is nothing like good old marketing style: find a sizable niche with wealthy clients ready to spend. There are 2 very important parts of this last sentence:
“sizable niche”: You need enough people in the niche so you can reach them. I doubt that albino clowns is a great niche to start with.
“ready to spend”: When you think about a niche website, you don’t want traffic, you don’t want loyal readers. You want customers who consume. You want someone that will click, subscribe, buy. You want people that are in “action mode” rather than people that “love your site” but never do anything about it. The dividend niche follows exactly this principle:
– People interested in dividends have money (if not, they can’t invest)
– They see the cost required to learn as an investment and not an expense
– They are willing to pay to improve their situation (trading abilities, portfolio management, overall investment return, etc)
– It is a sizable niche (there is a general frustration aimed at financial institutions and high management fees linked to investments)
A very, very, VERY important point: I tested this niche with a blog.
After looking at The Dividend Guy Blog traffic (over 40,000 visits per month), newsletter subscribers (over 1,200 since June 2011) and downloads of my Dividend Investing eBook (13, 774 since June 2011) I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with this niche.
Testing your niche with a blog is probably the most effective way to see if there is a market for your niche or not. It’s easier to get traffic as the blog is updated on a regular basis and people will comment on your site. You can also exchange links with other bloggers in your own niche. On top of that, it gives you the ultimate weapon of mass destruction when you want to dominate this niche and drive traffic to your niche site. Your blog will already have a good number of readers and linking power in the eye of the Big G. That’s perfect to put your niche site on the map fairly quickly.
I usually don’t spend much money on my niche websites at first as I want to see if it will fly or not. I have gone completely against this method with my latest site. I did spend a lot of money as I didn’t have the time to do it myself:
Costs so far:
-$70 for the logo
-$0 nothing for the design (we took an old TFB original template)
-$1,100 in article writing
-$700 worth of my time (at $35/hour)
-$199 for article marketing services (Mark Riddix service who does an awesome job at copying Pat’s technique)
-Another $1,100 in article writing
-Another $700 worth of my time
-Another $199 in article marketing service
-$500 in VA work for promotion and link building
Expected total cost of this site: $4,568
As you can see, I am about halfway in my cost and site creation. The site is already operational and we will just continue to add more content on it. Why invest so much? Simply because I want to make sure that I dominate my niche and that it would be Goddamn tough for any of my competitors to replicate the same thing. As you noticed, I have just used the word “investing” and not “spending”. Why? Because I know that this site will probably generate between $100 and $200 in a few months only. So even at $100 per month, this is a 26% annual return on my investment. Can you beat that with the stock market?
I am currently paying for almost all content creation in order to save time and use my talent. Since I’m pretty good at optimizing websites, it makes send that I have someone else create the site for me and then, – I optimize it so as to generate more traffic and income.
I’ve taken about 2 hours to design the look and outline of the site. I have known since the first article I bought how many articles I will need and how the site will be designed. I also know which keywords will be targeted and in which sections they will appear. It’s very important to know which categories will appear in your site and how many articles are required for each section. If not, you will keep adding content and it will turn into a blog. You want to build a passive source of income, not another site requiring weekly updates (this is why I don’t allow comments either!).
So the way I work is that I find a good writer for my niche and submit my outline. Since all the categories, titles and keywords are specified; all I need is someone who knows about this topic. The main advantage of this technique is that you can create sites very fast. The sooner your site is online, the sooner you will get traffic… and the sooner you receive income from it ;-D.
Since October, I spend about 2 hours a week on the site. I review the articles submitted by my writers (to add links, images and graphs) and publish them in the right categories. I quickly edit some posts by adding more information or mention another category/article on the same site. Since I do them in bulk, I’m way more efficient in doing it. I have streamlined my publishing process (I have all my pictures saved in a specific order, all my word documents opened and tabs for quick links before I start). I also create some pages (like the homepage) in order to put my personal touch on the topic.
The only place I’m cutting on cost for my niche sites is the design. Since we run several original and copyrighted templates within our empire, we use them to make our sites more professional without paying for additional designs. The only thing required is to buy another logo. And Pete from logosfromwebsites does an awesome job at creating professional logos in a short period of time.
As of November 1st, I didn’t have a single back link towards this site (this was the requirement for the duel). I had already a good share of articles published but not optimized and nothing was done for SEO as well.
Once all the articles are live and the site will be ready for promotion, I’ll send my instructions over to my VA so he can promote it via carnivals, commenting on other related sites or forums and to mention it on twitter. This is how I will make one wave of back linking. This is fairly basic stuff but it always works.
Another wave will be the launch throughout my network. I’ll use my empire to throw links towards the site. The very first thing I did so far was to make a quick link in one of my newsletters. Here’s the result:
A single mention in one newsletter got me almost 173 visits in 2 days on top of steering 19 newsletter subscribers to my new niche and 14 emails giving me comments about how I can improve the website. Now that I have the first feedback, I can modify my niche and get it ready for a bigger push.
The bigger push started yesterday with a mention on The Dividend Guy Blog. Since I’m giving away an iPad this month, it dragged a lot of attention towards this post… where I mention my new site. I’m making another push today with this post (I’ll eventually mention my site… lol!). And finally, I’ll do mention it again whenever it’s relevant using all my sites and newsletters (I have over 4,556 subscribers across my network). I’ll also add the site to the sidebars on my blogs’ homepage to create more link building.
My last strategy is to go with massive link building. I’m trying Mark Riddix article marketing services for this challenge. Mark’s process is very similar to the one explained at Smart Passive Income without requiring me to do the boring work (if you have ever spun an article or submitted it to article marketing sites, you know what I mean 😉 ). I use it because it will create numerous back links in a very short period of time. Since my site is already keyword rich and I use several internal links to boost my SEO, all I need are external links to have an optimized site that will eventually rank well in Google.
A big problem with niche website creation is that there are a lot of people doing it now and there are a lot of dreams and not enough achievers. This is because they read a few articles about niche websites and passive income and they start thinking about the thousands of dollars they will make next month. This ain’t gonna happen. It’s a long, hard learning process. I’m pretty good at making money online and still, I’m not kicking over $200 per month with any of my sites yet.
With my new process in place, I expect to get about 100 visits per day in Q1 (January 2012). Since January is always a big month for investing sites, I need to make sure that everything is ready for this date!
This should be enough to bring roughly $30-50 per month via Adsense at first. It is important to not expect to make $500 per month within a few months. Why? Because I’m not Pat and you are probably not him either. This is why thinking that you will be making more than $1,000 with your site upfront is called daydreaming. However, if you set realistic goals, you won’t be discouraged and you will keep working on having a great site where people will want to take action.
You can apply my techniques to any topic and any site. So if you have any specific knowledge about something that you really like, you might want to put that to profit and make a great investment out of your knowledge. I think it is a nice way to make money on the side without much effort (once this is launched properly!)
That’s it for today… oh! I almost forgot! Here’s my niche site: Canadian Dividend Stock
Also, here’s the list of the other participants:
Picking Up Girls 101 (way to go MD!)
Shirataki Noodle Facts (great site already!)
And myself: Canadian Dividend Stock
|How I Suck at Not Paying Debts||Hitting 6 Figures Income at 28|
|How I Get a Huge Income Raise Each Year||Making $125K Online in 12 months|
|How I Buy Blogs||Most Debated Articles: The Primerica Saga|
|How I Have Survived My MBA||What is So Wrong With Making Money?|
|How I run multiples blogs and makes money without burning out|