It has been just over one year since the last Niche Site Journey update and I am excited to let you all know what has happened since then!
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about let me fill you in. 18 months ago I started a case study that documented me starting and growing an Amazon niche website from scratch. There have been 7 case study updates before this one you are reading now.
This case study was put on the back burner after I started my Amazon FBA business. Since then, I never got around to giving a new update. I have been receiving comments and emails asking if I was going to give an update on how my niche site was doing.
So I figured I would write up a new update and let you all know what has happened to this site in the past 12 months and to explain what my future plans are. If this is your first time reading the Niche Site Journey, then I would suggest you read this case study from the beginning.
Check out all of the updates below:
- NSJ Update #1 – Introduction
- NSJ Update #2 – Bought Domain and Initial Site Setup
- NSJ Update #3 – First Couple of Backlinks
- NSJ Update #4 – The Site is Ranking in Google!
- NSJ Update #5 – Steady Improvements
- NSJ Update #6 – First Couple of Sales!
- NSJ Update #7 – 3 Months Later
For those of you who have been waiting for this update, I am sorry for the long wait but I hope you all enjoy this!
What I’ve Done in the Past Year
Honestly, not a whole lot!
But that is the major appeal of niche sites, they are passive income that doesn’t take a whole lot of work to maintain the earnings. Yes, they take a good chunk of initial work to get the site up and running but, after that it can be completely hands off if things are done correctly.
That is exactly what I did with this site. All of the initial work that I did for this site was documented in all of the previous updates and you can see what it takes to make a successful niche site.
That is why I haven’t had a new update in a year because there hasn’t been a whole lot to update you all on. With that being said, I have done a couple of small things since the last update that I want to fill you in on.
Added New PBN Links
I am still using private blog network(PBN) backlinks to rank this site(and all of my other niche sites) and they are STILL effective. Since the last update, I have added 17 new PBN links. Check out the dates I added this PBN links below:
17 new links seems like a lot but, spread over a year it only comes out to around 1.5 new PBN links per month. I tried to add 1 or 2 new links per month to try and grow my rankings as much as possible.
Adding new links was the main thing I did to maintain and grow this site over the past year. The Pareto Principle of 80/20 definitely applies when it comes to my niche websites. 20% of the work leads to 80% of the earnings. Adding new PBN links is the 20% of the work which leads to 80% of the progress in this case.
Outsourced Supporting Articles
Before I get into why I had supporting articles written, I first need to explain how this niche site is setup in terms of the pages and silo. This site only has around 15 pieces of content because I target a large group of similar keywords all with one piece of content. I call these articles “Pillar Articles” because they are super detailed articles that will rank for a ton of similar keywords.
An example of how I would use pillar articles (no I didn’t create this term, read about them here) for a site about basketball would be like this. One pillar article would be targeting basketball shoes and all of the keywords related to that topic. Another article would target basketball hoops and all of the keywords related to that topic. The same would go for basketball training aids, balls, etc. Do you see how this would work for other niches as well?
For an example of how the site is setup, check out the diagram below:
The orange arrows represent how they are linked together. Also, I have around 6 “Pillar Articles” on the site but I only used 3 in the diagram.
I always setup my niche sites like this and I found it to be the most effective way to rank for a wide selection of keywords with a small amount of content. I added these Pillar Articles to the site during the first month or so of it being live so there is nothing new here, but I need to show you how my site is setup before I could explain why I added supporting articles.
Alright, the idea behind having supporting content written was to target specific long tail keywords that were related to the pillar article’s topic. Going with the same example of basketball as I did above, let’s say that the pillar article’s topic was about basketball shoes. The supporting content would target long tail keywords such as “Best basketball shoes for old men” or “Best basketball shoes to wear when it’s raining”.
See how these articles target long tail keywords but are still relatively similar to the pillar article’s topic of basketball shoes? That is what I did for my site. See the diagram below for a visual representation of what I am talking about:
I like the idea of setting up niche sites like this because it shows Google that your pillar article is the “main” article and that it’s super related to the topic. Not to mention that the supporting articles can also rank well for the long tail keywords and bring in traffic.
I know this was a long winded explanation but, I hope you understand what I am talking about and the logic behind adding these supporting articles.
I added 4 supporting articles for one pillar article around the beginning of September, let’s see how these articles have performed!
Supporting Article #1 Stats
Supporting Article #2 Stats
Supporting Article #3 Stats
Supporting Article #4 Stats
Each article has a common theme, the traffic is constantly growing for each article month over month. This is what I like to see.
Supporting article #4 has seen the most success so far with almost 900 pageviews since September and supporting article #1 has the seen the least amount of success with only 177 pageviews. These articles aren’t bringing in a ton of traffic each month but it adds up over time.
However, the main purpose for these articles was not to bring in traffic. The main purpose of these articles was to link back to the main pillar article so that the rankings for that article would increase. The traffic I am getting from the supporting articles is considered a bonus!
Now let’s take a look at the pillar article’s stats since September to see if these supporting articles had any effect on the traffic to this pillar article. Remember, these 4 supporting articles all linked back to this one pillar article.
Pillar Article Stats Since September
As you can see, some nice growth in terms of traffic to this article. Just as a reference, in September this article saw 2,130 pageviews and in December that grew to 5,631 pageviews. That means the number of pageviews more than doubled since adding these supporting articles!
Do I think the growth in traffic was 100% due to the supporting articles? No, I don’t.
Because my site as a whole, including the other pillar articles that didn’t have any supporting articles, all saw a huge increase in traffic these last 4 months. With that being said, I think the supporting articles DID help and also brought in some long tail traffic that converted to sales.
I think I will need to test this supporting article theory on my other pillar articles and see what happens. That will be the true test to see what type of effect these supporting articles have on increasing the pillar articles traffic.
Some Affiliate Program Troubles
Around the end of September, the affiliate program that I had accounted for 95% of all of my sites earnings informed me that I could no longer use their affiliate program. This was due to the Nexus laws in Washington that had passed which prevented residents from receiving payouts.
This was a huge bummer and I had no idea what I was going to do.
What I ended up doing was switching affiliate programs and then I become “partners” with my grandma who lives in Ohio. This way I could use her location for the payouts since Ohio was not affected by the nexus laws. Doing this has allowed my to keep the site earning affiliate commissions while I figure out the best way to go about this problem.
Using my Grandma’s address is not a permanent solution and I am only doing it until I can figure out what I should do next. At the moment, I don’t see what else I could do to get around this Nexus law in Washington and that is a major reason as to why I am more than likely going to sell the site soon.
This is unfortunate because as you will see, the site is really starting to take off in terms of traffic and earnings. However, I don’t really see any other options at this point.
Summing up this Last Year
I didn’t put a whole lot of time, effort or money into this site in 2015.
It was mostly self sufficient and was able to grow and earn me a good amount of money without much work. However, the reason why this niche site was so passive was because of all of the upfront work that I put into it in 2014!
In the 7 previous update in the Niche Site Journey you have seen all of the work I had done with this site and the progress that I made during that time. This past year, 2015, was the result of all of the upfront work I put into this site. That is what has allowed me to put this site on the back burner and allow me to focus my attention on other projects all while still continue to earn a nice chunk of money each month.
Now that you have a good idea as to what I have done with this site in the last year, let’s take a look at some of the stats from the past year!
2015 Traffic and Earnings
Now for the good stuff, let’s take a look at how 2015 treated this site in terms of traffic and earnings! First, we are going to look at the traffic stats from the past year:
Wow, some serious growth!
Just to prove how massive this growth was, in January of 2015(beginning of 2015) there was 2,000 visitors and then in December of 2015(end of 2015) there was 14,500 visitors!
I’m sure some of the massive growth in December was due to the holidays but, you can see that the months leading up to December there was also a good amount of growth. This is awesome to see and leads me to believe that this growth was not solely due to it being the holidays but more to do with my keyword rankings improving.
Above is a look at the top 10 most visited pages on my site in the last year.
You can see that the top 3 pages make up for most of the traffic. All three of them are pillar articles and you can see that they have been very successful so far.
The top 3 pages are also the ones that I pointed the majority of my PBN links at as well, which is a major reason for their success compared to the other articles.
As you probably expected, most of the traffic comes from organic search. Which would make sense since trying to rank keywords in Google is the only thing I do to get traffic. It would probably be smart to diversify the traffic sources but, since I am going sell soon (more on this in a second) I won’t be doing much diversifying.
I wanted to include this section to show you how my keyword rankings have changed over the past year and to show you what type of keywords my site is ranking for. I will be using Semrush to display this information!
Semrush does a great job of showing what keywords you are ranking for and how the rankings have changed over time. This will be a good way to determine if the site’s keyword rankings have improved over the past year!
The traffic increase the site saw throughout the year can be attributed to the growth in keyword rankings. Semrush isn’t 100% accurate and it sometime takes a week or two before it updates but, it does a great job of showing the growth in terms of keyword rankings for the past.
To give you an idea of the type of keywords I am ranking for and the type of keywords that bring the site the most traffic, take a look below:
Take a look at the number of monthly searches these keywords have, I highlighted them in green.
There isn’t ONE keyword above 1,000 monthly searches! I don’t need to rank for those keywords to get a ton of traffic. Ranking 1st for a keyword that gets 590 monthly searches brings in over 17% of my traffic (according to Semrush).
Ranking for these type of keywords help your site get a TON of traffic too. I’m not talking about 100 – 200 daily visitors either. Check out the screenshot of December’s analytics and the amount of daily visitors this site’s gets:
If that doesn’t prove that you don’t have to try to rank for extremely competitive keywords to get a boat load of traffic and make money with niche sites I don’t know what will. All you have to do is rank for long tail keywords that get a couple hundred monthly searches and you will have a ton of highly targeted traffic.
Also, notice the keywords with 70 and 90 monthly searches. Those keywords are bringing in over 6% of my traffic. Most people ignore these keywords and they are missing out on easy traffic.
The earnings are going to come from a different couple sources. Some of the earnings will come from Amazon through their affiliate program. The other earnings, and the bulk of the total earnings, come from other separate affiliate programs.
If you recall from earlier in the article, I mentioned that I had to switch affiliate sites due to the Nexus law in Washington. For that reason, January to the middle of October earnings will be from one affiliate site and then from mid October to the end of December will from another affiliate. Hope this makes sense!
Total 2015 Earnings from Amazon
Total 2015 Earnings from Old Affiliate (Jan – Mid October)
Total 2015 Earnings from New Affiliate (Mid October – End of December)
Now that you can see proof of the earnings for 2015, let’s add up the numbers to see what the site made in 2015!
Amazon Earnings: $88.67
Old Affiliate Earnings: $2,241.43
New Affiliate Earnings: $2,266
TOTAL 2015 EARNINGS: $4,596.10
Wow, close to $4,600 earned in 2015 from this site alone!
In the next section, I will breakdown the earnings by month so you can get a good ideas as to how the year looked!
Month by Month Earnings
The last couple of months have been massive for this site and in December the site pulled in close to $1,400! This is the highest earning month I have EVER had by an individual site.
Obviously, December was a great month for this site due to Christmas shopping so it will be interesting to see how it fares in the next couple of months!
There wasn’t a whole lot of expenses this year but, there were a couple that I need to highlight.
Supporting Articles – $60
I hired someone to write me 3 supporting articles and I wrote the 4th one. Each article I paid for cost me $20. This was the only content that I bought this year!
PBN Links – $345
This expense is harder to calculate because each PBN site is used for 1-2 money sites. This means that I have PBN sites that link to 1-2 of my money sites so the expenses aren’t always the same. However, on average it costs me around $15 per PBN link. Since I had 23 PBN links that would 23 * $15 = $345.
Domain Name Renewal – $15
Each year I have to pay to keep my domain name.
Hosting – $15
I have 4 sites hosted on this host and it costs $60/year. That means $60 / 4 = $15 per site. That is where I got the $15 from.
Total 2015 Expenses = $435
Total Profit: $4,251.10
With all of the earnings and expenses tallied up, we can see that this website earned a total of $4,251.10 in PROFIT this year. Not too shabby 🙂
The Complete Niche Site Journey Earnings
I started this Niche Site Journey way back in June of 2014, which is around 18 months ago! Let’s take a look and see how much this site had made since I created it.
Below are all of the earnings the site has made since I started it. If you want to see more explanations behind these numbers then you can read the previous updates here.
Total Site Earnings Since Creation
Total Amazon Earnings: $88.67
Total Old Affiliate Site Earnings: $2,995.07
Total New Affiliate Site Earnings: $2,266
Total Earnings: $5,349.74
So far, this site has brought in around $5,300 in earnings since creation in July of 2014. Not too bad!
Total Site Expenses
Domain – $95
Hosting – $45
Six 1500 word articles – $200
Pillow Links – $175
Facebook Likes – $5
Domain Name Renewal – $15
Supporting Articles – $60
PBN Links – $345
Hosting – $15
Total Expenses: $955
It has cost me $955 to start this site and to grow it to the point where it is now. That is a low cost to pay to have a return of over $5,000 in earnings! Now let’s look at the profit’s.
Total Site Profit
Total Earnings: $5,349.74
Total Expenses: $955
Total Profits: $4,394.74
This site has earned me close to $4,400 in PROFIT since I created it 18 months ago! You have seen each step of the process that I used to create this site from scratch and how I was able to turn it into a site that is now earning over $1,000 a month.
It has taken 18 months to get my site to this point.
This kind of success with a niche site doesn’t happen overnight like many people think. A couple years ago you could have a niche site earning hundreds of dollars a month in 1-2 months time. That is not the case anymore as Google has changed over the years. It now takes at least 6 months to start seeing some success and around a year before you see any major success, sometimes even longer.
So for those of you who are interested in starting your own niche sites, know this, you need to have patience and give the site time to reach success. Creating successful niche website is not hard if you know what you are doing, however, it will take 6+ months before you see any earnings. That’s just the way things are nowadays. My suggestion, start a site now. The sooner you start the sooner you will see success.
The Website’s Current Evaluation
This is what I am most excited about for this site.
You could probably figure out from reading the title of this article that I am planning on selling this website at some point. Ideally, I will be starting the selling process at the beginning of February and I will tell you why in a minute. Before I do that, let’s look at what this site is currently valued at.
How I am Determining the Value
This is a subject that a lot of people have questions about and a lot of people don’t know how to properly value a website.
I will be using the 20x multiple rule to value my site. This is be far the most common way to quickly value a website and I have also found it be the most accurate way to do things. The 20x multiple rule is used by finding the average PROFIT of your site in the last 3 months. You take this average and multiply it by 20. Hence the name “20x multiple rule”.
Stats for the Past 3 Months
So the first thing we need to do is determine how much the site has earned in the last 3 months, which is from October to the end of December:
Amazon Earnings – $80.90
Old Affiliate Site(First half of October) – $158.65
New Affiliate Site(Mid Oct – end of Dec) – $2,266
Total Earnings in the Last 3 Months = $2,505.55
The site earned slightly over $2.5k in the past 3 months. Next, we need to determine the total expenses in for the past 3 months.
3 Supporting Articles – $60
6 New PBN Links at $15 each – $90
Total Expenses in the Last 3 Months = $150
In the last 3 months I spent a total of $150. These expenses were for the 3 new supporting articles I had written as well as the 6 new PBN links. Now that we have the 3 month totals for the earnings and expenses, we can now find the total profit.
TOTAL PROFIT = $2,505.55 – $150
TOTAL PROFIT = $2,355.55
Monthly Profit Average = $785.18 ($2,355.55/3)
In the past 3 months, on average, the site has earned $785.18 per month in profit. Now we will apply the 20x multiple to see what the site is currently worth!
$785.18 * 20 = $15,703.60
Current Site Valuation = $15,703.60
Right now, the site is worth $15,703.60!
If I wanted to, I could sell the site right now and get a nice chunk of money. However, that is not my plan at the moment. My plan is to hold it for one more month and then sell it.
Why wait one more month?
A couple of reasons:
- October’s earnings were only $275, which is bringing down my monthly average
- I want to have one month after the holiday season to prove that the earnings are not solely due to the holiday shopping season
- January’s earnings are off to a VERY good start so far. In the first week the site has already earned $966!
Those are the main reasons for delaying the sale for one more month. As you can see, waiting an extra month will be very beneficial to me because the valuation will be MUCH higher due to January’s earnings replacing October’s earnings in the 3 month valuation.
Since October only had $275 in earnings and January already has $966, you can see that I will be improving my site’s valuation significantly. Not to mention, I will also be able to earn an extra $1,000 due to me holding the site and letting it earn for one more month!
The Future Plans
Right now, I am not doing anything to the site and I’m just letting it earn by itself. I won’t be spending any money on the site in an effort to keep the costs down so that I am able to maximize the site’s value when I go to sell.
The current plan is to hold it until the beginning of February and then start the selling process. By then I should have a solid 3 months under the site’s belt and be able to get a very nice valuation.
I am still undecided as to where I am going to sell the site. It is between Empire Flippers and FE International at this point. I could go the Flippa route but I feel like doing so will take longer and the selling price is not as predictable.
I haven’t used FE International to buy or sell a site before so it would be interesting to see how using them goes. Especially since I have already sold I site with Empire Flippers and I could compare the pros and cons of each from my own personal experience.
Empire Flippers is looking like the best choice though for a couple of reasons. One of them being that I will be able to pretty much guarantee a 20x multiple on the valuation of the site. Another reason being that the websites that sell on Empire Flippers go like hot cakes and it would be a quick and easy selling process.
As of right now, I am still deciding which broker I will be using but I will give you all the final verdict in the next Niche Site Journey update, which will be coming around the beginning of February.
Wrapping this Post Up
We are coming to the end of this post and I hope you all enjoyed reading this new update in my Niche Site Journey. I know that it has been a long time since the last update and most of you reading this weren’t even around PiP when I started this case study.
However, I have been getting a lot of comments and emails asking me how this site has been doing and for me to do a new update.
This niche site has been a very good success so far and it will be perfectly executed if I am able to sell the site at it’s peak value. I am pretty pumped about this site and how I was able to document each step of the process for you all to follow along. If you follow the steps that I laid out in each update you will be able to find success with your own niche sites as well.
Thank you all for reading and I will be back around the beginning of February to fill you all in on how things went in January and to tell you which broker I will be using to sell my site.