Coaching: Rob’s Niche Site (Session #1)

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This is the start of a public coaching series that I am starting for Niche Site Project.

You may remember Rob from his success story where he talks about one of his sites that is making about $2,000 per month. (If you haven’t read that yet, go read it now. I’ll wait here.)

(If you haven’t read that yet, go read it now. I’ll wait here. Okay…let’s move on.)

Rob clearly knows how to build a profitable niche site.

However, Rob is not satisfied with the systems that he has in place.

Or, it may be more accurate to say, the systems that Rob doesn’t have in place.

Today, Rob and I have a preliminary conversation about what he’s working on, where there are gaps in his process, and what areas we should focus on.

If you have any feedback, let me know in the comments below…about the video, the content, the kegerator in the background…anything!

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If you are interested in coaching, send me an email. doug @


17 comments… add one
  • That was an interesting conversation guys and thanks to you both for sharing. I am in a similar, but not quite as good, a position as Rob. I have one Amazon website that is doing pretty well and earning $500-750 a month. That one is working pretty well but then I became confused myself. I wasn’t sure whether to continue to just build that site up or start another one. So I decided to do both. My second site is doing OK and earning a little money but not as well as my first one.

    I think this becomes a dilemma for many people. Common sense would tell me just to build up my original website and there is plenty of keywords available to grow it. However I am a person who gets bored really easily so I could never just write and write about one subject as I would lose my mind.

    Building the second site I “thought” would deal with my boredom but sadly that was not the case. So guess what I started another one and then another and then even more. Now I have about 10 of them. I know not that many people will understand the insanity of doing this but it seemed a great idea at the time.

    Time for me is not a big issue as I retired early from work and I love the idea of earning money online. The problem I have created for myself is now building out websites without getting bored. My problem is that I enjoy finding a niche, doing the keyword research and making the site look good.

    Like Rob I have also outsourced some of the content but I usually end up re-writing most of it as I like it to be 100% right. I think the problem that people in my position face is twofold:

    1. Not having a clear path to scale up what is working
    2. Not having the focus on making money from what we have already created

    The sad thing is there are hundreds of niches available with hundreds of long tail keywords. When I come across one then I want to build a site and continue on like that. The best business for me to be in would be to do build these sites with about 20 pages of content and then sell them on. The only problem with that model is no-one wants to buy them unless they are earning at least $100 a month. With a new domain that takes about 3-6 months these days.

    Perhaps one day I will be blessed with focus and self-discipline and really increase the content.

    I am not sure how much of this process can actually be automated. You guys both referred to certain skilled tasks and I think they all are, especially to create a good quality website. I don’t see how automation works for any of it. Keyword research takes skill, writing content takes skill, internal and external linking takes skill and site design takes skill. So what parts can you automate?

    I have never built a link in my life and I am never going to as when they go wrong they can ruin your hard work. My 2 oldest sites rank well without links so that is a safer position for me. So when I hear about people scaling up their business I don’t actually understand what that means. Outsourcing articles is the main task and that is just a matter of finding a good writer, which is difficult and can get expensive.

    It was interesting to hear Rob say that when he went to his computer at the start of the day he wasn’t always clear what to do. I am like that also but with one difference. I know what I should be doing and just prefer doing other things that are more interesting for me. That I know is my main down fall for not having the focus on earning.

    Thanks for the video though as it was interesting.

    • Rob Atkinson


      Thanks for the well thought out comment. Lots of great insights. Not sure where to begin (haha)…

      I definitely face the first dilemma you mentioned: grow your successful site or move on to more. For me, I would be interested in growing a site into a big property only if it was a site I cared deeply about, or there was passion (like Doug’s website).

      I liked your point about, ” Not having a clear path to scale up what is working”. That’s the toughest area I face when looking at my business. I can outline the niche process, but it’s hard what works and doesn’t; niche sites/SEO is so messy at times.

      Interesting that you have never built a link. I’m curious to know how you achieved solid rankings for your site that earns between $500-$700/mo. Does it have links now, maybe because you tried to do some outreach? Or do the KWs have low competition?

      Last point: I definitely hear you when it comes on working things that interest you. The niche process can get boring and mundane at times.

      Thanks for watching!


      • Thanks for replying Rob…I am with you one one big site as well but like you I would have to be really passionate about it. Writing is tough when you simply have a passing interest. Trying to build those out is just a huge pain for me.

        On my good site Rob I have no idea if it has links or not. I just never look to see and if it does then they are natural as I have never even tried to build a link. Most of the keywords on there are low to medium competition in terms of website competitors so maybe that is the key. I have never left blog comments, done outreach or anything. I have a Facebook page for the site which has about 200 likes and a YouTube channel with 2 videos (crap ones) on it.

        I would ideally like to automate some of the work but I just don’t see what parts can be done like that..

        Keep up the hard work,


        • Hi Edna,

          I’m curious to know more about your site you described. I am relatively new to this and I’m working on my first legit Amazon site, and figuring out what to do for it each day is mega confusing for me. It just passed the three month point, and I’ve got my keywords staked out, tons of decent content, and everything *should* be going well. I guess it is, its hard to tell, watching the keyword rankings fluctuate and the traffic rise and fall. I am also aware of the “sandbox”, so I don’t know how big of a factor that is now. So when you mentioned you don’t have any links, or don’t really think about them, that piqued my interest as that’s all I currently think about as I’m trying to get the site to rank for a number of keywords and link building seems to be the way to go. I would be interested to actually take a peek at your $500 / month site to see what makes it tick, or get some more stats on it. I am actually worried that link building may not be all its cracked up to be, and that I’m spamming my own site as I try to get a few relevant backlinks. Thanks!

          • Good question, Marty!

          • Marty, I don’t want to share my site as sadly people do copy them. It has happened to me before and also to many others like Spencer Hawes, Perrin etc. I am ok with sharing some stats though so hopefully that will suffice.

            The answer for me with a new domain and a new site is to keep going and have a LOT of patience. (I struggled with that for ages) I only changed my attitude when I read somewhere that most Internet Marketers stop before they succeed.

            I built my new site (New domain and new hosting) in the first week of January 2014 and added about 5 articles and 5 pages to start off. There are about 60 articles on it now.

            So after the first 5 articles I did about one a week after that.

            After 3 months I had a trickle of visitors…I wasn’t that impressed because I believed I had done a lot of work, whereas in reality, I had not actually done a lot, but it felt like I had. (Total work probably 30 hours on keyword research, building the site and writing along with a logo, favicon and a header) It felt like I had done a lot more work though and spent a lot more time so I have no idea why it felt longer. That still mystifies me today!!

            After 4-5 months I started to get some more visitors but the traffic was really up and down (15-40 a day)…I made about $30-40 a month. Not much but it paid for my domain and hosting for the year so I was chuffed. Breaking even was a nice feeling and earning the first few dollars was the best feeling of all. It made it all seem worthwhile.

            In month 6 and 7 I made about $100 each month so was happy and about 100-130 visitors a day. I was actually thrilled because for some reason hitting 3 figures seemed like a real breakthrough for me anyway.

            Then disaster happened as in month 8 my site disappeared from sight..and I panicked. I panicked a lot even though I knew there were no links built. I was going to quit and I kicked anything that sat still. There was no traffic, no commissions and for days I stared at my screen. I had a mix of emotions from anger to frustration to disbelief and I think I called Google every possible bad name under the sun.

            I decided to go back and try again and I really didn’t want to. It took a massive effort just to get back and do something. However I decided to just kept on writing as normal..I wrote with little hope though to be honest.

            Month 9 it was back again and earned about $ should have seen the stupid grin I had when the visitors came back. Why the site dropped I have no idea…I have heard of sandbox..but whatever it was I was just so pleased to have it back again. I was also nervous about adding articles to it in case I broke it again. Now that sounds silly, but that was how it felt to me at the time.

            In months 10-11 I made about $300 and December jumped to $700 (Christmas Buying) and since then it has made around $500-550 a month. That is a fantastic feeling and it continues to grow a little each month.

            All I do is write for visitors and try to do on page SEO. I focus on the URL, Title and Description and no other mention of the keyword in any of my articles. (Well not intentional plugging if that makes sense)

            I do a lot of internal links and 2 external links per page but not to Wiki. (I just have a sense that a lot of marketers do that to tick a box and Google may look at that..I could also be simply paranoid)

            I am embarking on one other experiment which will be tough. I would love to buy an old domain with no links on it. I am convinced that Google pays attention to the age of a domain and if that was the case, then I could maybe rank faster. I don’t want any old links pointing to it or at least not many.

            There is one other person I know who has built a few Amazon sites with no links and they are doing really well also.

            My thoughts now are – Who actually says that links work? I read a lot about this and the only people who say they work are so called SEO experts who then either sell links or have affiliate links to different link bundles. This time last year everyone on the planet was selling or promoting PBNs. Those were a ton of work or a huge amount of money to buy.

            I also think that many really good coaches and people who do courses and helpful blogs have bought into this link building industry. It somehow makes it seem more complex than it is.

            I have yet to hear a small guy like me saying they did all this and it worked. I had a site and I bought into all of that and did PBN back links from Rank has remained buried when that was found by Google. I ended up having to take out new hosting just to get away from all of that.

            So apart from links being time consuming and as boring as can be, who can state with clarity that you need them at all. One thing is certain that if you get them wrong it is a disaster for your site and all your hard work.

            I am not saying they don’t work as I honestly don’t know. I just know I won’t be building them

            I will finish with these thoughts.

            I had about 50 articles on Squidoo (now gone and sold to Hubpages) and those earned me about $350 a month…never built a link to any of those.

            I have about 25 pages on Hubpages that make around $90 a links to those either.

            I don’t use Keyword tools, links and mainly just write.

          • Hey Edna,

            Thanks for the detailed response. Very much appreciated. 🙂 As a relative newbie to the world of affiliate websites, its really interesting to hear how things end up going down the line, by people who have actually put the time in.

            My problem currently is similar to yours, in that I have put about 30-50 hours into my site now, and it sounds about on par with your site at the same point. There are approx. 30 visitors per day, and sometimes it goes up and then down. Its not predictable, nor do I really understand my G Analytics enough to really act on what its telling me. I realized recently that I may be my own biggest audience, since I’m on the site all the time, and its not like Google is going to remind you to filter yourself out of traffic stats. So I filtered out my own IP, and I think that affected my traffic significantly, though I’m not 100% on that. If you’re working on your site all the time, it stands to reason you will be looking at your own page views and visits and not know it.

            I am at a point where I’m tired of writing on the same topic every single day/week, but I told myself since this is my first site, to continue to focus on it until it sees some kind of success, before moving on. I definitely could start another site, but I need to prove to myself that this system works before moving on, and relaxing a bit. When its your first real site, and you really want it to succeed, I think maybe you’re harder on yourself than you might be if you’ve been through the process a few times. I’ve got about 20 or so articles on the site, and I feel like they’re quite detailed and “inspired” about the topic, you might say. I’ve checked on some of my competitors, AKA the other affiliate guys in my niche, and honestly, their sites have all sorts of problems – from bad grammar, to just poor site design. And yet they rank for the keywords that I want to rank for. Of course, they are older than me, sometimes by years, so I’m sure that factors into the equation.

            I’m just amazed that your site developed the way it did without really doing things like following regular keyword guidelines (1% or less), or doing any boring blog commenting to get backlinks. For your site, you must have done some good keyword research in order to write articles based on them, and then have those articles organically rank without going crazy promoting the site on Facebook, cramming it with keywords, PBNs, etc.

            All I’ve been doing mainly is trying to write articles based on specific keywords and then watching how they rank over time. Its a bit nerve-wracking, especially since I always feel like I’m not doing something that I should be doing. Over on they talk about doing 20% writing and 80% promotion. My problem with this is that a lot of his methods seem to take a long time, or are just impossible (for me). I appreciate that Brian Dean has so many solutions to link building, but when you say you didn’t even need links to have your site grow, its confusing. I am wondering if you did something that kind of kicked your site into high gear when it did. I added Easy Azon to my site, thinking that would be a better method for me adding affiliate links rather than doing it manually, but I’m not convinced because since I added it nothing has sold, and its been a month or so. I think my site has sold one thing so far. I’m paranoid about things like this because its easy to not set it up correctly, and then you go for months with it not working and who would tell you? But Easy Azon does offer a 90 day cookie or so I’m told, so that seems better than a manual link which is just a day or something right? It would just suck if Google could see Easy Azon links and penalize those sites just for having them. Again, how would I know?

            Anyway, I am trying some of the Backlinko methods anyway, as they seem to make sense in terms of getting better links, but I am having to learn entirely new sets of skills in order to do this. For instance, outreach. It seems natural, if you have a site and want to connect with others in your niche. Maybe you can score some links. Obviously, not all links are going to tank your site. You just have to have great content to do this outreach stuff, and to offer your content in place of a broken link or some such thing. It just seems to take all day digging around for this stuff and is very frustrating when you can’t find anything. Meanwhile, Backlinko says “just get out there and snap up some juicy links using these clever methods…” (not a quote, actually). So I figure I’m on the right track trying everything possible, but really, is this a good idea? I don’t mind trying stuff, I am not afraid of hard work and doing crazy things to succeed. But maybe I’m overdoing it… 😀

            I was really wondering Edna, would you be willing to take a look at my site, and give me your honest opinion, based on your knowledge. It would mean a lot to me to hear from someone like you. I’m not worried to show you the site at this point – i feel pretty confident that you aren’t going to just build a rival site a la Spencer or Perrin. I’ve been on some sites like, and they offer some ok tips sometimes, but its not the same as having someone who’s doing exactly the same thing as you give you some real feedback. Anyway, I’m not too worried about getting spammed through this forum, so my email is if you want to give me a shout. I’m from Ontario, Canada. Thanks!

          • I will drop you an email for sure.

            A couple of points really popped out though so may be worth mentioning for others reading this. I boil it down to ons simple thing I guess:…

            Would I rather write one good article for my site based on some basic research or spend time making comments on other blogs, forums or web 2.0 sites?

            You probably do get some traffic from these comments as well if you do them and in the early days it will attract visitors to your site..but not that many.

            I just have a genuine belief that if you can build a website which is better than any other out there, then Google will rank it once they see a good site and consistent writing. The RISK in doing that is in my opinion boredom with just writing about one thing all the time. That is especially true if you are not getting sales.

            I also think people just like me and Jane and you all suffer from one common problem. Too many so called experts saying different things and claiming that their particular one works. I stopped listening myself and just decided to do a good site with good articles. That was it and nothing keyword tools, no competition research..nothing just wrote articles and knew I had to be very patient..Google does not rank new sites quickly.

            The other thing I figured out was that doing 30 hours of work and expecting to make $1,000 every month is just silly. In reality I think to make that will mean about 200 articles and about 250 hours of work…and that is about 4 hours a day for a couple of months, which is not really that long. Somehow it can seem like that though when not much is happening on your website.

            It is like walking up a tunnel and just praying that you see some light ahead.

            Linking reminds me of checking other tunnels just in case there is a shortcut or a faster way out…I view that as a distraction.

            I watched a survival program the other night and a leading expert said if you find a river follow it and you will eventually reach civilisation and in the mean time you have water and food. The 2 guys trying to survive: one listened to the advice, the other guy went off on his own following a map. The first chap made it but it was a tough old road for him. The second guy came close to dehydration and had to be rescued eventually because he ended up falling on a mountain, which he thought would have been a good short cut.

          • Edna,

            All of this sounds quite logical to me. I’m wondering what others think of this thread?

            What I wonder about all of this is to what extent Google is automated to rank sites just based on what the robots see? Because, if we’re just talking about robots crawling and re-crawling a site that has good writing, one would think that your argument of a well-written site ranking on its own merits makes sense. On the other hand, social signals are obviously important, unless they’re spammy. Hence link building becomes problematic when Google decides that the social signals don’t seem natural.

            I was looking at my own site on Majestic recently, and thinking about the Trust Flow / Citation Flow metrics, and how there certainly seems to be a danger of having an “unhealthy” profile with tons of links but low TF/CF metrics. And once that happens how do you recover? So here I am building all of these links, but I’m not seeing my trust flow go up very much. I wonder exactly how they derive this metric, since a lot of metrics – even LTP’s KC metric – is just a sort of aggregate metric of other more measurable metrics.

            I just know that when I’ve analyzed the competition in my niche, some of those sites look really ugly and yet they seem to rank well. I guess that’s not surprising since some of them have a lot more age than mine, so I mean if you pick a good niche, one of the things that gives you hope is that the competition is just incompetent. But I guess I don’t want to base how good my site is on how bad the other sites are, but when you’re trying to rank for a specific keyword, and you’re up against a handful of other sites that look home made, I guess its an SEO’s job the figure out what makes them rank and then proceed to outrank them.

            Just ramblin’ here…

          • Nothing wrong with rambling. It is interesting I think when you hear things like trust, citation flow etc…and then a lot of people speculate on how they “think” Google “might” interpret what that means. I think people who design keyword software are trying to make their software better by adding what they “hope” are the right metrics that Google uses. I also think that people trying to sell us products assume that what they are reading about is correct and build it into their courses or software products.

            As far as I know a robot reads your website unless it comes under a manual review which I guess can happen. I have often wondered how they use what they find to rate a page, a post or a website. I think the age of a domain is important to them. Likewise I think the number of words on a page and the relevancy of those words play a part as well. I would also think regular posting would be a big advantage when the robot comes around again. I would also guess the length of time visitors spend on your website is important because Google would assume the visitor found what they were looking for. That is why I use images and videos on a page.

            Those measurements and metrics all make sense to me.

            I have never looked at Majestic or any other of those type of websites because I would rather spend my time writing a good article. I am going on the principle that if I can write regularly and make it good quality which is useful to visitors then that is better than trying to guess what they are looking for.

            So in my mind anyway if you have a site with a few hundred well written articles that visitors like and read then Google is going to rank it. If you share that on a few social websites then more people may find it and read it.

            If you don’t build links then it makes sense that you do not have to worry about falling foul of anything. Like you I have seen some awful websites out there ranking for good keywords. They are covered with ads and pop-ups but yet they rank. I stopped thinking about it and just keep on writing.

          • On the topic of writing, and partly because of this thread, I’ve been trying to revise some of my articles on my site, to increase the quality of the articles overall. Now I fancy myself a talented writer, but what’s funny about all this is that when I’ve gone back and re-read some of my articles, they’re absolutely terrible! In fact, I just revised an article on my site that I was thinking offered some kind of value to users, and upon re-reading it, not only did I notice a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but overall, a lot of it was under-researched and didn’t make a lot of sense. So I had to spend an entire day basically trying to bring it together and I think now I’ve done that, but the next issue is that most of my articles are probably in need of heavy revision.

            What I’m trying to say is that even if you’re a good writer, and even if you spend months writing articles of content for a site and you *think* they’re good, you can’t just let them sit there and assume that what you wrote one day will actually stand up a month later, after your knowledge on the product has increased exponentially. And this is besides the point of sharing the article anywhere – I’m just talking about getting the article to the point where you can actually be proud you wrote it. The article on my site I’m referring to I actually had written by one of my VAs over on oDesk – someone who I also think has a talent for writing, but there’s a slight language barrier. Funnily enough, I thought her writing was “cute”, and so I let a lot of things slide about the article, even after my first revision many moons ago. Now that I re-read what was written for that particular article, I was cringing the entire time I was reading it.

            So I think its important to note how crucial your point is on writing well for your website. Not only will that absolutely make those other guys look like morons, if someone were exploring your niche and came upon yours vs a competitor’s website, but aside from everything else about SEO and web design, good, clear writing will have to just give you an advantage, if we go with the assumption that most affiliate marketers have a tendency towards bad writing, bad design, etc. – as their minds are clouded by greed. This is evident in these sites that rank for good keywords but are, as you said, plastered with ads and everything else that is wrong with them. Still, if those keywords rank and those links work properly, those guys are still getting paid, which is a bit maddening if you are someone who actually gives a shit about helping people out.

            The other thing I’m thinking is if these Google bots are the things which are actually causing our sites to be ranked, they obviously are missing the point of what makes a quality article, or a quality site, because they’re clearly ranking crappy sites for profitable keywords. I don’t know if anyone would argue this is happening. So here I am with my site, which has about 25 articles written about a particular topic, just waiting to rank. And half of those articles are actually bad, and don’t deserve to be ranked. So what do I expect? Maybe even if I didn’t touch those articles, I’d still rank, and those articles that I think need editing could still rank for certain keywords, but I honestly wouldn’t be very proud if they did rank, because that would mean someone is sitting there reading my shitty, illogical articles and that definitely has to affect whether or not they click on my links.

            That whole Skyscraper technique idea where you try to write the best article on a given topic on the internet makes a lot of sense. So I think rather than add 25 more articles, I really need to spend a good month making sure each of my articles is amazing, according to my standards. And I think what you mentioned, Edna, at one point about people not clicking image links very much. That made me re-analyze my site, and realize hmmm.. I have nothing but big, in your face image links, plus some shoddy writing.. that’s a recipe for people not clicking. So I’m finally getting around to fixing that, and I think its really going to help. The only thing that bothers me is that when I add a manual link, I lose the purported 90-day cookie that Easy Azon adds, plus yeah, Easy Azon does make it easy when you have it hooked up properly. 90-day cookie vs. 1 day cookie? Obviously the 90-day cookie sounds way more enticing…waitaminute! I’m an idiot.. it has text links. I was just ignoring them. 90-day cookie, here I come!

          • I read once that you should write one day and then edit it the next day. The principle behind that was when you are free writing you use a different part of your brain. When it comes to editing and correction you use a different part. I usually write 3-4 articles in draft format. Then I edit them for spelling etc and to see if they make sense. After that I have a think about images and where to put them. I then add videos and do a final preview and read. Finally I check that my links are working.

            I am probably over the top in doing that, but the article turns out pretty well.

            I should have mentioned that Easy Azon does text links. There is also no harm in having an image Amazon link either in the article. Some people do click images. I have found that more people click my text links so again just about balancing it all out.

            Marty I would recommend adding more articles as regular published content really helps. Perhaps add an article one day and edit an article the next day etc.

          • Thanks Edna. Really useful information. I’m just starting out on my Amazon niche site and your comment has given me hope. 🙂

    • Hi Edna – thanks for the great comment.

      I feel the same as what you describe all the time…I am starting to realize that the iterating on the same thing (no matter what it is) leads to better results.

      So having a passion about the content makes it tolerable. Or if you have passion about the process, that will work too.

  • Good start guys, Doug do you have the task list you mentioned almost at the end of the video?

  • This is the best series for coaching, I love these so I always see and read this series when I am free.

    These are useful for me and everyone who loves coaching.

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