Niche Site Project 2019 Updates (A Weekly Journal)

This article has a weekly update of my niche site project. I will keep on updating this every week with details of what I do and how the site is progressing.

What is this niche site project?

This niche site project is where I start working on a niche site from scratch and try and turn it into a profitable one.

For quite a few months, I have been dabbling with the idea of starting a bunch on new niche sites.

I already have a couple of authority sites and I am making a full-time living for more than five years now (with the income from these sites). While I can continue to work on my existing sites, I love the idea of building niche sites. No matter whether these succeed or fail, I end up learning a lot of new things in this ever-changing online business world.

Also, I am a solopreneur (working from a co-working space in Noida, India) and I want to keep it that way (at least for now).

While I work with freelancers and occasionally outsource parts of my sites, I do most of the heavy lifting (biggest of all being the content writing part).

So, when I thought of starting some new niche sites, my first challenge was to figure out how to get the work done while continuing to work alone and not hire and manage people.

I have been testing some writers and content writing agencies in the past few months and now I have a writer (who works from home and needs minimal guidance). I am also in the process of finalizing a new content writing service to get more content. This may take a few more days to finalize.

While I will be outsourcing the content writing, you don’t have to. If you’re starting a niche site today, I recommend you do the writing yourself. Once your niche site is getting traffic and making money, you can outsource the content writing if you want. I still write every single day (averaging 720 words per day in 2019). The only reason I am outsourcing content writing is that I can’t do it myself.

I am not new to starting new sites and I have tried a few in the past few months. Some did well ($100-$200 per month) and some didn’t. I also shared some learnings from these sites in the Human Proof Design podcast.

This article is more of a journal of what I do with one of the new sites I am starting and what works (or doesn’t work).

I am not going to reveal the site name or niche, but I will share all the other details including the traffic/rankings/income/expense numbers and snapshots.

Also, note that it takes time for a niche site to get traffic organically and make money. So for the initial few months, you’ll see me spend time and money with almost no results.

No matter how hard you try in the first few months, results take time. So if you start your own site today, be ready to put in long hours (and have a lot of faith).

I will be sharing weekly updates in this article.

So let’s get started.

Initial Target

Date of Starting the site: June 2019 (2nd week)

Target: A total of $100 in the first eight months (by the end of February 2020) and $500 per month by June 2020.

A word about the target – Getting from 0 to $100 is extremely tough and takes time. Once you’re at $100 a month, growing your site to $1000 is easier.

Let’s get started with the updates now (I will keep adding more updates every other week in this same article).

Week #1 Update

During this Week/UpdateTotal (thus far)
  • Number of articles published: 0
  • Word Count of the articles published: 0
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1379
  • Income: $0
  • Number of articles published: 0
  • Word Count of the articles published: 0
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1379
  • Income: $0

I spent a couple of days doing niche and keyword research.

Since I already have a few failed sites, I made sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes. So when it came to niche selection, I considered the following factor:

  • Familiarity with the niche: While you can easily create a niche site on a topic you’re not familiar with, I didn’t want this. I feel more comfortable when I understand the niche, even if the familiarity is low. I find it easier to be more motivated when the niche is something that interests me. Again, this is just my personal preference.
  • There should be a lot of info keywords in the niche: This is important for me as it can help find more keyword ideas, get traffic faster, and open a new monetization channel – display ads. When you use networks such as Ezoic or Mediavine or Adthrive, you can make good money with traffic on info content articles. Also, keep in mind that sites that have multiple sources of income are more likely to have a higher multiple in case you decide to sell the site in the future (also confirmed by Greg from Empire Flippers in this HPD podcast).
  • Focussed on the US market: While there is low competition and a much better chances of getting traffic in the Indian market, I am only focussing on the US market. With the US market, I am more likely to make more money with display ads, and the probability of selling the site is higher, as most of the buyers are interested in sites that get traffic from the US.
  • Has Amazon products to recommend: While I am not a huge fan of Amazon affiliate business model, I know it’s probably the easiest to start with. And since Amazon sells almost everything under the sun, it’s easier to find products on it. I made sure the niche has a lot of products of different kinds that I can recommend through my site.
  • Amazon products have reviews (lots of it): I find it assuring when the niche has products with lots of reviews. It’s proof that there are a lot of sales happening through Amazon.
  • Product Value is greater than $50: While you can make a lot of money with low-value items as well, I wanted to start in a niche where every sale gives me more money. Another reason I wanted this is that I wanted to attract those kinds of people that have higher spending capacity. This also helps me get higher RPM on display ads.
  • Has some active forums: While this is not a huge consideration, having active forums in your niche helps in two ways – it gives you ideas for new info content (based on questions people are asking), and it helps you make your content better. People drop a lot of value bombs in forums, and you can use these to improve your existing articles or while writing new articles.

With all these in mind, I analyzed hundreds of niches and finally zeroed in on a few.

For doing keyword research, I mostly used SEMRush, Google Autosuggest, and AnswerThePublic.

SEMRush offers a 7-day trial, so if you’re interested, sign-up for the trial and use it to do all the keyword research and cancel it. You’ll get enough keywords to keep you busy for months/years.

Finally, I booked a domain name from NameCheap.

NIche Site domain name purchased

While getting this domain name, I made sure it sounds nice, doesn’t have the words such as best or review, but include the niche keyword (one word).

It’s a brandable domain name, and in case this site gets big (fingers crossed), I can even think of selling it. I haven’t sold any of my sites so far and I am a complete noob in it, but this is a huge consideration while starting this site.

Oh, and yes, it’s a .com domain.

While I have ranked other TLDs just as easily as .com, I still wanted a .com as I believe it might be valued higher in case I plan to sell it in the future (if it works).

Another thing I managed to do in Week 1 is set up the entire site and make it ready for publishing content.

Starting and setting the site takes a lof time (at least for me).

Here are some usual steps involved in setting up the site:

  1. Connecting the domain name with hosting (I use and recommend SiteGround). It’s cheap, fast, reliable, and has great support.
  2. Installing WordPress
  3. Adding the SSL certificate (one click with SiteGround)
  4. Changing Permalink settings (only have post name in the URL)
  5. Adding a logo and Favicon (used Canva to make this)
  6. Adding GeneratePress theme (you can use whichever you want)
  7. Adding and activating plugins (Akismet, Easy TOC, Elementor Pro, WP-Rocket, AAWP, Classic Editor, ShortPixel, Yoast)
  8. Adding Privacy Policy, About and Contact Pages
  9. Creating the header, footer, page, post and category archive templates using Elementor Pro.
A word for beginners: I use some paid plugins (Elementor Pro, WP Rocket, and AAWP) because I have already paid for plans that allow me to use these on multiple sites. So to use these don’t cost me anything extra.

But you don’t have to make this expense.

Here are some substitutes:

  1. Elementor Pro: No need for this or any other plugin like this for now. I use it for its theme builder functionality, but you can install any free theme you like and get started. Don’t get hung up on your site design. You can always work on it later.
  2. WP Rocket: Use W3 Total Cache. If you get hosting from SiteGround, you can use their SG Optimizer plugin which is good enough.
  3. AAWP: It’s a plugin I use to get Amazon product data such as images and price and links. You don’t need this as of now. In fact, I don’t recommend getting it at all unless you’re making money already.

Since these steps are something I need to replicate every time I start a new site, I started looking for a better way.

Wouldn’t it be great if I have a copy of WordPress where I don’t need to do all these steps again and again (it took me 2.5 hours to do this, and I have done this a dozen times already)?

Well, there is a way.

You can easily clone a WordPress install from one site to another (using Softaclous clone feature in the cPanel). So this time, I did all the work on a dummy domain and going forward I will simply clone the WordPress install. I tried it and it took 30 seconds. Once you have the clone, you just need to change minor things such as logo, site name, etc.

Forgive me for I digress.

Let me come back to the niche site update.

So by the end of Week 1, I have a fully functional site which is ready for publishing content.

To be honest, this is all a few hours of work, and I probably would have added some content had I only been working on this site alone. But I have a lot of other sites to manage as well, so I don’t think I will be able to spend more than a few hours on this site anyway.

But that has been the plan all along.

And I believe the hard part is over – niche selection and keyword research (if you’re thinking – ‘what about link building mate?’, hold that thought).

In the coming weeks, I will only be spending time getting content for the site (I might write a few articles myself as well). The aim is to have 50-60 low competition keywords on this site and let it get out of the sandbox if there exists something like that.

Based on my past niche sites experience, it takes about 3-5 months to get any stable movement in rankings (with a lot of ranking fluctuations in the first few months). Since I am focussing a lot on info content, I might see some movement sooner (or later… you never know… but we will find out)

Now coming to the link building part.

It’s hard! And important.

But I am not going to do it for the first few months. I need to see some traffic coming in before I spend time on it. Once I see some traffic, I will start with link building.

We will cross that bridge when we get there.

So far, all’s well and I am desperately hoping (while keeping a confident pro-like exterior) for this to work.

Gut feeling tells me it will.

Week 1 Gyaan: If you’re starting a niche site/blog, just get it up and running as soon as possible. You don’t have to get the perfect design or all the tools. Just get a domain name, hosting and install WordPress and you’re good to go. Remember, done is better than perfect

Week #2 Update

During this Week/UpdateTotal (thus far)
  • Number of articles published: 2
  • Word Count of the articles published: 3,722
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1379
  • Income: $0
  • Number of articles published: 2
  • Word Count of the articles published: 3,722
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1379
  • Income: $0

Week 2 ended up being a bit neglected. I got busy with a lot of other stuff and couldn’t spend enough time on the site.

These are the things I managed to do for the site:

  1. Added the site to Google Search Console. This is not needed immediately, but it’s one less step to worry about. It also doesn’t take a lot of time. All you need to do is verify the domain in GSC and add the sitemap.
  2. Added Google Analytics to the site. Again, took less than 1 minute and I don’t expect any movement in the first 15-20 weeks.
  3. Added two articles to the site – a total of ~3500 words. Both of these are info articles. This is a good start and I plan to add ~4000-5000 words per week.

Now let me share the most important development of week 2.

I finally hired an agency to write content for my site.

It’s Content Development Pros.

Now before I share my thoughts about the content writing agency, here is a suggestion – if you’re a beginner and are not making any money already, it’s better to write the content yourself. Once you start generating income (or have enough confidence in the site), you can outsource content writing.

Another benefit of writing the content yourself is that you get to familiarize yourself with the niche and the content writing process. This helps you later when you decide to outsource your content.

Now. coming to the price.

CDP charges $39 per 1000 words.

That’s a bit pricey, but I am happy with the quality of their content. It’s well researched, and there were no grammar mistakes and very less misspelled words.

So that’s a good thing.

The drawback is that they haven’t shown a quick turnaround in the first two articles. I order the content in the first week itself and they delivered two articles in two weeks.

That’s very very slow.

I have reached out to my account manager and asked him to speed it up, but I am also worried that this may take a toll on the quality. So to strike a balance, even if I get 2 articles from them every week, I am going to be fine.

For me, quality trumps quantity.

I may also write a few articles in case I get time. Although this will not be the best use of my time, I want to have a decent enough knowledge of the niche I am in. And writing a few articles and researching about it would give me that.

For week 3, I plan to publish 2-3 articles and also create some social profiles such as a Pinterest account and a Facebook page (still thinking of which ones would make more sense).

If I can get the CDP writing agency to speed up a little, I might also do some keyword research and send them a list of articles to write, but if that doesn’t happen, I will have to try and find another agency or hire a writer.

Week #3/4/5 Update

During this Week/UpdateTotal (thus far)
  • Number of articles published: 4
  • Word Count of the articles published: 7,046
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1379
  • Income: $0
  • Number of articles published: 6
  • Word Count of the articles published: 10,768
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1379
  • Income: $0

I am clubbing the updates for the three weeks as most of what I did was repetitive (also, I didn’t get time to write teh update for each week separately).

In week 3/4/5, I managed to do the following:

  1. Publish 4 articles
  2. Create social media accounts
  3. Publish videos to YouTube

I mentioned in Week 2 that I have hired an agency to write content for the site. While I was struggling initially with the pace of delivery of articles, they have really picked up after a little nudge.

As of now, they are sending me 4-5 artilces per week.

The quality of these articles is still the same.

I also created a couple of social media accounts for the site (mainly Pinterest and YouTube). These accounts make the site look natural and also has an added benefit of getting a NOFOLLOW backlink from the profile.

While the link may not help a lot in rankings, it’s still a good signal about the authority and authenticity of the site for search engines. I plan to post regularly on these channels whenever I publish a new article on the site.

The most exciting thing that I did in ‘week 5’ was to create a YouTube channel and published a video on it.

And the reason this is exciting is because it’s something that doesn’t take lot of effort and can be easily scaled.

Since I plan to keep most of the articles on this site to be informational, it’s easy to quickly stitch some images/video clips with text overlay and create a 3-4 minute video.

And you don’t even have to do all the stitching as there are tools out there that can do it for you.

I experimented four different ways/tools to do this:

  1. Invideo
  2. Rocketium
  3. Lumen5
  4. Camtasia

After spending a few hours with these tools, I decided to go with Lumen5.

You can check out their website here and also have a look at the kind of vidoes you can create. This may not work with every niche, but it works for this niche site.

I chose Lumen5 over others as it’s quick to create the video and very easy to use.

All you need to do is provide the link to the article for which you want to create the video and Lumen5 will automatically pull the content.

Once it has the content, it will pull relevant images and video clips and create a video for you (all of this is done in less than a minute). You can then choose to keep it as is, add more content or edit/remove some of what it has picked.

Once you are happy with the video and the theme it uses (there are many you can choose from), you can add music to it.

After that, you download the video (takes less than 5 minutes) and then upload it to YouTube.

So far, I have only created an uploaded 1 video, and I will be doing this for most of the articles on this niche site.

The other social media channel I am using is Pinterest, and I will be adding some images to it as well. I have seen some crazy results with Pinterest in the past and I hope to see some here as well.

For the coming weeks, I will send another batch of articles to Content Development Pros and continue to publish articles and videos on the site.

Week #6/7/8 Update

During this Week/UpdateTotal (thus far)
  • Number of articles published: 9
  • Word Count of the articles published: 15,086
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $1,170
  • Income: $0
  • Number of articles published: 15
  • Word Count of the articles published: 25,854
  • Pageviews: 0
  • Expense: $2,549
  • Income: $0

I am again clubbing the updates for multiple weeks as I was travelling and didn’t get time to write it for each week.

I continued to publish articles that I got from the CDP agency. They have finally picked up pace and I hope they continue to keep it.

I also ordered another batch of 30K articles from them.

So far, all the 15 articles I have publshed are information articles.

I will continue with a few more information articles before I switch to a mix of info content and review articles.

It’s been almost two months now and I expect to see some movement in rankings soon.

I also realized that forgot to install the Google Analytics code (which I thought I had). So I will be able to exactly track the number of page views the site is getting (I don’t expect anything major happening soon though).

There is some movement in the impressions in Google Search Console (nothing too exciting, but good to see some movement)

Niche Site Project - Impressions so far from GSC

I also created an uploaded two more videos on YouTube using Lumen5 (total of three videos now).

Will continue to create and upload more videos and see if I get any traction there.

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  • Surabhi G Gupta says:

    These steps are very informative and detailed. It helps in organizing your to-dos in a more logical and impacting manner. Thanks for sharing

    • Sumit Bansal says:

      Thanks Surabhi.. Glad you’re finding this useful!

  • Pravin Singh says:

    Great stuff, keep the momentum on and let us know how it goes!

    Curious why you are using so many social media accounts – which ones do you recommend for Gadgets / Devices / Tech space mainly? Also, do you recommend making videos in this space with no prior experience?

    • Sumit Bansal says:

      Thanks Praveen.. I just checked out what other social media channels other similar sites were using. My criteria would be to be on those platforms where the potential readers hang out. Pinterest and YouTube make more sense for my niche. For your niche, best to check what platforms are working well for similar sites.

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