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February 27, 2012, 5:00 am

If You Can’t Buy’em, Build’em!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Niche Website



Last week, I started to share my view of how you can build an empire online. In my opinion, there are 3 ways you can succeed. From my own experience, the 3 ways are good and have equal chances of succeeding. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and this is why each strategy has its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I talked about how you can build your empire by pressing the fast forward button: through acquisitions. In the first part, I told you why I think that cheap buys don’t make the cut in my model. Today, I’ll tell you exactly why.


Because I Prefer To Build My Own Sites


I totally understand that not everybody is willing, or has the possibility to shell out 50K on a blog. So if you have a limited budget, let’s say 4K, I want to let you know that there is another alternative to buying a small site. But before I talk about building your own site with 5K, let’s take a quick look at what you buy when you buy a small site:


–          Less than 500 articles (most likely 100 to 200)

–          Less than 10,000 visitors per month

–          Less than $500 per month (most likely around $200 to $300)

–          A PR2 or PR3 site


If I look at all these metrics and think that I would have to pay $4,000 for such a site, there is another question I need to ask myself before completing the transaction: can I make build a better site with similar metrics with the same $4,000?


The answer is most likely: YES!


The thing is that small sites are for sale for a reason. Chances are that the blogger wasn’t able to find a way to bring the blog to the next level, wasn’t too good at SEO or is just simply too bored to care. All these reasons lead to the same consequence: underperformance!


There are things you can tweak quickly and make a few bucks out of these sites, but some articles are simply worth nothing (e.g. they won’t be read or found through search engines). So you can either spend a lot of time tweaking the site, or building a new one. Sometimes, you are better off starting from scratch.


Where To Start


I believe I can now build a website with less than $4,000. And I’ll show you how with this example. The first step you must start with is to do a quick keyword research and narrow down your topic. We won’t go through how to use Market Samurai and find your niche (you can read these 2 articles, right?). Let’s fast forward to the moment when you have your domain, topic and keywords you need to rank for. What you need to do next is to write down all the categories and post titles that will be on your site.


It’s important to complete the structure before you start writing your very first article. If you don’t do it this way, you will start writing and will get more and more ideas. Then, after 2 months, you will have transformed a static site into another blog… and you don’t have the time for that ;-). Plus, I’m not expecting you to write these articlesJ. Each category should be created around a specific keyword that is a derivative of your domain name and main topic. Then, you make sure you have enough topics to have at least 25 articles. You can have more, it’s up to you (and your budget!).


You Have The Structure, Now Write!…. oh no… WAIT!


The point of buying a site is to benefit from what has been created already, right? Well it’s the same thing for a “built site”. Once you have your structure and know exactly how many articles need to be written, your quest to find a writer has just started! The easiest way to do it is to find a good blogger in the niche you want to hit and make him an offer. Most bloggers don’t make much with their own blog and would probably be happy to write for $20-$25 per article.


Depending on the topic, you can also pick up a writer from ELance or ODesk. So far, I’ve had much better results by picking existing bloggers than using these sites. I guess it really depends on the topic! For great results, you can take a look at a few freelancers/bloggers:

Hank from Money Q&A

Miranda Marquit

Robert @ The College Investor

Crystal @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Miss T @ Prairie Eco Thrifter

Briana @ 20 and Engaged

Jon @ Free Money Wisdom

Melissa @ Moms Plans

Justin @ Money is the root

Jesse @ PFFirewall

Andrea @ So Over Debt

Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog


The point of paying someone else to write is that you don’t have to do it… yeah I know, it sounds simple and stupid to say it but that beauty of a “built site” is you don’t have to work hard. But two things are required: money and a great brain! If you pay $25 an article and spend $3,000, you will get 120 articles… that’s enough to get any site rolling!


You Have Your Article, Now What?


This is where the “brain” comes into play. So far, you should have not spent more than 3-4 hours on the site. That was used to a) build your structure and b) find your writer and give him directions. Now that you have your articles, you have to use your brain a little.


These articles should already be “SEO’d” since they have been started with specific keywords and written by real bloggers (not some Philippine dude working in a hut). However, you can use a bit of your magic touch to:

–          Add internal links

–          Add pictures with alt text

–          Make links from your homepage

–          Find affiliates that fit

–          Include Adsense code within your articles

This is how you will boost both your SEO and the chance to make money from your site. This operation should require up to 10 hours of work.


What Should You Do With The Last $1,000?


So far, I’ve “spent” only $3,000 out of my $4,000 budget, right? The last 1K can be used to promote your site via:

–          Carnival submission services

–          Article marketing services

–          Paid tweets

–          Commenting on forums or other blogs

–          Etc.

You can also put out $70 and get a decent logo (go see Peter from Logos for websites!). Another great thing you can do is to build a newsletter (read how I made $463 with my last mailing).


A Real Life Example


I’ve already shared my experience building Canadian Dividend Stock last week (read it here). The site is on its way to earning a solid $100/month from Adsense and just added another advertiser that will be paying about $150/month to display its add on my site. Therefore, with a $4,000 budget, I have a site producing $3,000 in the upcoming year. It took me 4 months to get there and am convinced that my site will be making a lot more than $250/month by the end of this year.


The difference with a “cheap buy” and a “built site” is that the latter has a sustainable business model. This means that I can count on this site to generate the same $250/mth and will probably increase over the years to come. I highly doubt that you can buy a cheap site, do almost nothing with it and come up with the same result.  Your thoughts?

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December 19, 2011, 5:00 am

2011 Blogging Goals How I Sucked and How I Ruled 2011

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online,Niche Website


While I crushed my 2011 financial goals, I can’t say that I have crushed all of my blogging goals! The sad part is I don’t know how to feel about 2011 when I think of my business:

–          I attended the FINCON11 and made tons of friends (while consolidating existing relationships)

–          I increased my monthly income to an average of $9K/month

–          I have built a solid team of VAs and writers

–          I achieved several projects this year and have more in the pipeline for 2012


So if I stop right here; I’ve done an amazing job! Unfortunately, I:

–          Sucked so much while launching my own product

–          Sucked at growing my newsletter to where I wanted it

–          Sucked at the creation of high quality niche websites (the first ones anyways!)

–          Sucked at increasing my affiliate income


In 2011, I had 5 goals. 2 of them that sucked:

Create my first product (ebook) and sell 100 copies

You know about my eBook The Rat Race; One Year From Now, Will You Still Be A Rat?. While I worked a lot, I failed miserably at selling 100 copies (read the full story here). This is my biggest failure in the past 3 years. To be honest, I would have preferred being punched in the face!


Create 10 niche websites and make a minimum of $100 per month with each of them

We experienced several challenges in the creation process at 2 levels:

a)      Finding profitable niches with a reasonable amount of traffic (plus ranking for those keywords).

b)      Finding enough time and resources to create these niche sites.

These challenges won’t be different in 2012 but at least we know we won’t be growing at the pace we thought we could. We also know what to expect in terms of cost if we want to deploy larger niche sites (such as Canadian Dividend Stock that will have over 200 pages of content once finished).


The good news is that 7 niche sites are created:

Secondhand Saddles

Home Security System Canada

Covered Call ETFs

Smart Financial Analyst

Taxes for Expats

What is Dividend

Canadian Dividend Stock


This is pretty good news although they are not at the level we wanted them to be, they are live and their history is being established in Google. Since most of the visits have to come from search engines, this is pretty good news. It leaves us more time to focus on promotion and link building in 2012.


The second good news is that some of them are making some decent money already. But I’m far from 10 sites earning $100/month each. So far this year, I’m closer to earning an average of $200/month for all my sites. At least, this is true passive income as I have never looked back at any of my sites since they were “launched”. We will obviously tweak them in 2012 in order to earn a lot more money from them ;-).


For 2012, we have a different type of website that will be developed. It will be mid-way between a blog and a niche site. Basically, it will look like a niche site but with a lot more info and these sites will be updated on a weekly basis. We currently have 2 sites under construction and a third one that is scheduled for mid 2012 (wow… I do sound like I run a company now ;-0 lol!).


At least, I don’t suck all the time 😉

My 3 other goals for 2011 were:

– Get over 250,000 visits per month with my blog network

– Write a free eBook and generate 500 downloads

– Switch The Financial Blogger’s direction to PF & Online income blog


After being hit by the Panda in April, I thought that my first goal would go down the toilet. However, I’ve worked very hard during the summer to bring the number of visits back up and after the recent Panda update II in October, I’m back to 247,000 visitors last month. So I can say “mission accomplished!”.


The free eBook, Dividend Investing, was my biggest success in 2011. I reached 15,180 downloads as of December 14th and made over $2,000 directly or indirectly from it. It has also helped me build a 1727 member newsletter and it keeps increasing by 10 to 20 a day! So if I have one piece of advice for all of you: start with a free eBook and offer it to your newsletter subscribers!


My third goal was to switch TFB’s direction without losing much traction. I am well aware that a lot of readers were following me for my controversial view of personal finance and didn’t care too much about my online company and how to become an entrepreneur. On the other hand, I was getting more and more questions & email regarding this side of the blog. This is why I have decided to make a clear switch this year. If you look at my RSS feed, it’s bigger than the beginning of the year! So while I have lost a few readers while providing more insight on making money online, I have gained more new readers in the end.


A change in time management – introducing the « Q Priority System »

This is a big change in our way of working. We have decided to establish Quarterly objectives while we were on the plane back from the Fincon11 (this conference was definitely a huge moment for our company!).


We used to have several project scheduled for the year (they are determined at our annual meeting) but we didn’t have any priorities among them or a timetable. So now, we have gathered all these projects on a list and we each pick 2 to 3 per quarter. This means that we leave all our other projects on the table and don’t even think about them. We concentrate on our quarterly objectives to make sure we have a great focus on a few value added activities. For example, my objectives for Q4 were:

a-      Increase my newsletter subscribers by 300 (so 100 per month) for both The Financial Blogger and The Dividend Guy Blog.

b-      Focus on writing my 2nd dividend investing eBook (I have over 70 pages written so far)

c-       Launch Canadian Dividend Stock and add new sections each week


This has truly improved our productivity as things are getting done in a timely manner. We already have our objectives for Q1 and have a pretty good idea of what will happen in Q2 as well. I’ll be gathering my thoughts in the weeks to come and share them with you with my 2012 financial and blogging goals during the Holidays ;-).



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November 23, 2011, 5:00 am

How To Find The Idea That Will Make You Rich That’s Not In This Post!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Niche Website

Earlier in November, I wrote a piece about how to crush it at work while watching Lost. In that post, I told you what I have done with my life for the past 8 years and how I got where I am today. Once you have learned to crush it at work, you need to free up some time to start thinking about  working 4 days a week. Climbing up the corporate ladder is great, earning more money is even better but this won’t get you out of the Rat Race. However, if you are able to do this in 4 days, you have an opportunity to build your own money making machine on the 5th day.


As an example, I told you how to build a niche website last week and what kind of return you can expect from it (about 25% per year, on a conservative basis). The less money you have to build the site, the more time you will have to put in. This is why the 5th day is important ;-). You can basically build a niche site with only $10 in your bank account (thas a minimum to buy a domain). Then, you just have to hustle hard and you can make it happen.

But wait…. Building a niche site is not that easy…


Yeah… I would be lying to you if I told you that you will make a 25% return on your first site. I didn’t. And to be totally honest, so far, my niche website adventure has been a great hole where I drop money into. If you look at my blog income report, you’ll see that I made a few thousand so far with all my niche sites. But if I factor in how many hours I’ve put into them, I’m not making money at all. As a matter of fact, it is true for niche website creation, but it is also true about any type of business you want to start. Yeah… sorry to whack you in the face with a baseball bat again… but chances are that you won’t make money with your first idea!


This post is about finding the right idea for your sideline business. It can be a product, a service, a blog or a niche site. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is having the right idea to make some cash!


I still think that niche sites will become a lucrative part of my business as they help my diversification and my latest sites (What is Dividend & Canadian Dividend Stock) are showing way more potential (and they are built differently!).


There are a few differences between these 2 sites and my previous ideas. The one I want to put emphasis on today is the idea behind the site. Dividend investing is a great topic to talk about. And, more importantly, it is a lucrative topic! Selecting the right idea upfront for your site, product or service is definitely the most important step if you don’t want to fail.



All the criteria your idea must meet


Don’t worry; this won’t be an exhaustive list.  But the point is that your idea must fit ALL the criteria. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a good idea. Plain and simple. You can always convince yourself that you are still right but then, I’ll have to ask you “where is the money?”.  So here’s the list:



Find a sizable market


The first thing you need is people that could possibly be interested in your idea. If you narrow your offer too much, chances are that your market will be too small and you won’t be able to scale your expertise and transform it into money. The personal finance is a highly competitive niche but it is because it is quite large too.

Find people ready to spend



Have you tried to sell something to frugal people or people with huge debts? You need to find out if people are willing to pay for your product / service. In order to find these people, your idea must generally solve a problem, protect people from fear or add value to someone’s life. But the problem needs to be pretty big, the fear important and the added value tremendous to convince people to pull the wallet out of their pockets. This is one of the main reasons why I have chosen the dividend niche.  People don’t see buying a book or a service as an expense, they see it as an investment.

Find the benefit(s) of your idea

If your idea can’t compete with a 50 inch TV plasma, chances are that people will prefer to waste their money elsewhere. For example, the main benefit of Canadian Dividend Stock is that it provides CANADIAN information on dividend stocks. People who want to read about Canadian banks, telecoms, REITs, energy stocks will go to this site. Another benefit is that CDS will offer information based on the Canadian reality (like discussing the type of account). Since there are not many bloggers who cover the Canadian dividend market, the benefits are bigger too.


Find how you will make money from your idea



This sounds pretty stupid and obvious but most people skip this step. Don’t just stupidly think that you will put your product up for sale and you are going to rake in tons of money. It’s not gonna happen.


Yeah I know, your product is the best in the world.



And it is unique.


And it has been tested and this is an emerging market,  and blah blah blah…


This still doesn’t tell me how you will make a sale! This part of your idea must be incredibly detailed. If not, it will fail. I promise… ‘cause I tried the other way around many times! Lol!




Here’s how you should do it:




For example, I work in the financial industry. I am a financial planner by day. So basically, I do “my job” when I meet clients and transfer their money under my management. I’m a great guy, I’m smart, I know about the market, I have an MBA, I offer great investing solutions and blah blah blah. People don’t care about that. It will definitely help, but it’s not how I close my sales.




This is how I’ve built my business to make money:


How do I sell?


I need a client in my office that will sign the transfer.




How do I get the client?


I need to call a bunch of them and convince them that I have some great investment ideas to show them.




How do I call?


I need lists of clients (my employer provides me with existing clients that have no investments with us, for example.)




So, how do I sell again?


I need to make 20 calls, to get 10 appointments, to get 5 people interested for 3 to sign on the dotted line.




If my average sale is $100K, I need to call 60 clients a week to bring in $300K per week.




NOW I know how I can make money out of my job. Not because I’m a great planner, not because I work for a great firm but because I have a streamlined process.




Then, you can also go deeper for each step (for example, you need to figure out what will be the biggest objections or excuses to not buy your product/service). Once you have done all this, you will have a great idea with a great plan and will bring you a lot of money ;-).




So stop day dreaming and start working (really working) on your idea!





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November 15, 2011, 5:00 am

Niche Site Duel I’m The French Canadian Version of Pat Flynn!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Niche Website


“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!


#1 Find Your Niche And Dominate it

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.



#2 The Site Creation Process


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)


Total: $2,069


Upcoming costs:

-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.


#3  Promotion and Link Building


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.


#4 Set realistic expectations


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!)

Market Share Battle

DIY Ebook Publishing

Entrepreneurship Life

Help For Hoarding

Protective Styles

Infrared Heater Scam

Life in College

Cook Quinoa Best

And myself: Canadian Dividend Stock



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May 5, 2011, 5:00 am

Niche Websites Mistakes and Success So Far

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Niche Website

I’ve been discussing the topic of niche websites since the beginning of the year. Actually, if you read any “make money online” site, it seems that niche websites have been the buzz words for a while now. To be honest, I clearly feel that I am a bit late in getting into this game. And the problem when you are late is that it’s hard to establish yourself. On the other hand, you have the chance to learn from many others.

So if you want get into the creation of niche websites in order to create an additional income; you are not too late. However, you better be good! I’m learning this as I create my first niche websites since the beginning of the year.

My Niche Websites Overview

We currently have 4 niche websites that are live (I have put their nicknames in brackets to simplify the rest of this article):

Smart Financial Analyst (SFA)

This was our first project that was launched last year (mostly by my partner). It is a website that provides information for those who want to pass the CFA exams. My partner is a CFA so he is a good resource to give tips on how to pass these important exams.

Secondhand Saddles HQ (SHS)

This is our second attempt at a niche website. It was created after a brainstorming session with one of our VAs who is passionate about horse riding. We are talking about how to choose secondhand saddles and horse riding in general.

Home Security System Canada (HSS)

It is our third iteration of what we call a niche website. This one was created based on some interesting home security affiliate programs. We found that we could rank for a few keywords and that the payout was interesting.

What is Dividend (WID)

“What is Dividend” is our latest and our best creation so far. Born from the knowledge we have in dividend investing, we wanted to teach and encourage young investors to use this strategy. The purpose of the site is clearly to provide high quality information regarding dividend investing basics.

Niche Website Mistakes

While building these 4 niche websites, we have learned a lot about niche website creation. This is why I want to share my mistakes and success so far:

#1 Money Focus

When I first started HSS, I had only one thing in mind; make a quick buck out of a profitable topic. Security system topics are quite profitable in term of affiliate programs and Adsense clicks. I thought of making a simple site with decent information but including a lot of ads to make sure I was making money right away. Very bad move. Focusing on money did 2 things on the site:

a)      It discourages readers from staying on the site

b)      Visitors don’t click much on ads when there are too many

I have since modified it to make it more visitor friendly and less cluttered but it will be part of my tasks in the upcoming month.

#2 Building Without a Plan

Here again, I was so excited about the idea of building static content websites that I had completely ignored planning with SFA, HSS and SHS. We did a little bit of brainstorming but nothing solid. This generated 2 results:

a)      Sites without a clear direction (where you start your topic and where you end it)

b)      We spent a lot of time working on them since we are continuously tweaking and improving the work we did

From now on, I start my niche websites with a clear plan. I determine each category I want to cover and the number of articles per categories to be written. It has helped us to delimit the scope of each site. If we realize that we need more articles to cover sub-topics, we take good notes and we will start other niche websites in the future instead.

#3 Ignoring the Difference between a Blog and a Niche Website

If you look at our first 3 niche websites (SFA, SHS and HSS) they are all built the same way; like a blog! There are no intro pages (beside an about section) and there are “continuously” updated content. Therefore, there is not much of a difference between these sites and a blog. The problem with that is that static websites are not operating with the same link structure and should capitalize from internal links between articles instead of adding fresh content on a regular basis (such as blogs). So this mistake creates:

a)      An important lack in the backlinking structure

b)      Confusion for visitors (is it a blog or is it a content website?)

#4 Not Performing Proof Reading

This has been a major challenge since we first started our company; we are not Anglophones! We are slowly getting people to edit and proof read our articles on our blogs (I’m sure long time readers will notice how poor my English was at the beginning of this blog 😉 ). For some reason, we didn’t use editors for our niche websites… big mistake! It’s even worst to not proof read your stuff for a static content website because:

a)      You lack of credibility with first time visitors

b)      First time visitors may leave pretty quickly in order to find well written articles elsewhere

From now on, we will use more editors from Odesk in order to have “better” websites ;-).

#5 Over Estimating Keyword Research Performance

Since we are at our very first attempts to use Market Samurai, we had made some beginner mistakes. The most obvious was to think that we could easily rank for “low competition” keywords. It’s not that simple! When I read articles from Smart Passive Income on niche websites, I thought it would be relatively easy to rank #1 in Google.

While I know that my articles and each site are pretty well optimized for Search Engine Optimization, my backlinking strategy is not as aggressive as Pat’s. The results have 2 main consequences:

a)      I don’t appear in the first spot for any of my keywords (however I have reached the first page for some of them)

b)      I don’t have a clear structure of all the “good” keywords I’m looking to rank for

I have realized that a more aggressive backlinking strategy (e.g. combining The Best Spinner with an article submission software) would definitely help me to “master” keywords optimization and ranking with the Big G.

I also plan to do more intensive keyword research with Market Samurai in order to have a short list of keywords I want to rank for each site. Therefore, I’ll be able to create specific pages with some other keywords that can help me to boost my traffic efficiently.

Niche Website Successful Techniques:

Even though we have made several mistakes, we still have a few things we are doing right ;-):

#1 Start with a Complete Keyword Research

A lot of what we do well comes from our learning experiences of our niche website mistakes. The first thing we started to do well is to start our new niche websites with a complete list of keywords. This enables us to have very specific topics to write about and concentrate the internal backlinking strategy towards these pages.

It’s hard and it requires a lot of time to go back into your articles in order to include links and ensure Search Engine Optimization. However, when you do your keywords research before you even write your first post, you will be in a better position to optimize all articles as you go.

We tried this technique with WID and it worked very well. We noticed that there were a few keywords we had a chance to rank for. This is why we decided to write articles on these topics and we tried to link back to these pages from our other articles. While the content is very useful for readers, it is also strongly optimized to show Google which pages are the most important.

#2 Doing a Mindmap

I think that the most challenging part of doing a website is to determine where it starts and where it stops. The main purpose with a niche website is to create a source of passive income. The very last thing you want is to get into a 500 article project that is constantly updated. We call this a blog ;-). We had a hard time establishing the limits with HSS and SHS as we basically started writing as we felt it. This was not completely bad but it clearly creates a lack of direction for each website along with incomplete sections.

In my article on how I run my multiple blogs, I explain how I use the mindmap technique to generate content for each of my sites. I didn’t use this technique initially with niche websites. I thought that creating niche websites were relatively easy and didn’t require a lot of planning; I was obviously wrong! I, now, go a little further with my mindmap.

Once the mindmap for my niche website is completed I separate each sub-category for my main topic into a section of the niche website. Then, I make a clear list of each article I want for each category. I make sure that:

a)     Each category is complete and easy to understand/read

b)    Each article includes a keyword I would like to rank for (obviously, some keywords have a smaller impact but each article must be SEO optimized)

c)     I can link from one article to another and from one category to another

#3 Optimizing Back Links

I’ve realized that getting external links requires a lot of time and effort. You obviously have to create content (either through “guest posts” or article marketing) and have your links published on other sites. This is very effective but also very time consuming.

However, there is another aspect of backlinking strategy that you can explore: internal backlinking strategy. After playing with a few parameters with our main blogs and our niche websites, we realized that internal backlinking can create some very interesting results.

This is why we have increased the number of internal links from both our homepage and existing articles for our latest niche website: What is Dividend. You will notice that there are tons of internal links that lead you from one page to another. We tried to include about 2 to 3 internal links per articles. This actually gives 2 very interesting results:

a)     It helps ranking in search engines (as crawlers appreciate the thick spider web you are building with your niche website)

b)    It makes people stay on your site a lot longer (our average pages views with WID is 3 to 4 and our average time spent on the website is over 3 minutes)

#4 Using Your Network for Promotion

Over the past years, we have built 2 very powerful networks:

a)     Internal network (we currently have more than 200,000 visits on all our sites combined per month)

b)    External network (the Yakezie, the Div-Net, and making many blogging friends through forums and other blogs)

Therefore, instead of simply using article marketing submissions to create external back links, we can use our networks in order to promote our websites. We advocate several strategies such as:

a)     Offering guest posts on high quality websites

b)    Doing link exchanges (with specific keywords)

c)     Using our related websites to send more traffic

d)    Promote our niche website through our newsletters

The Results of Our Latest Niche Website Creation was started in March of 2011. We purchased the domain and started on content creation right away. After 2 months, we have about 50 articles and a complete website. While we are still missing the dividend calculators and the broker reviews, the site is deemed to be fully operational.

We didn’t use much of our resources to do promotion. To be honest, we simply linked a few times from our main blogs (The Financial Blogger, The Dividend Guy Blog and Intelligent Speculator). We also used our newsletter but nothing was done with our external network. Here are the google analytics results for April.


On top of that, after only a month of operation (while we were still publishing content in April), we made a total of $82.67 with this site only. We expect WID to reach our $100/month target at a stable clip by this summer. We can say it’s quite a success compared to our previous niche websites!

Final Thoughts On Making Niche Websites

The internet is all about sharing great resources. This is why we have decided to increase the level of quality of our niche websites. We are lucky enough to have a high level of competency in finance so we should use it and share our experiences with you.

I heard this quote somewhere: the internet is about making the world a better place. I think that this is definitely what you need to do if you want to be successful with niche websites.

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