$1400/Month in a BAD Niche – Graham’s Success Story with Five Figure Niche Site

Graham just crossed the $1,400 mark in one month. I actually met Graham in person a few weeks ago in Idaho.

There aren’t many niche site entrepreneurs in the Bozeman, Montana area (not many people in general) so when Graham told me he’d be in the vicinity, we arranged to meet up.

Graham enrolled in the Five Figure Niche Site Course in the summer of 2017. He put in a ton of work, and it’s paid off.

Click here to get all my templates & systems for niche sites, including the KGR Calculator.

Graham and I talk about:

  • The age of the site and traffic stats. Traffic is off the hook!
  • The role of hard work and motivation.
  • The number of posts.
  • Why the poor niche selection may not matter.
  • The power of the Keyword Golden Ratio.
  • Why low search volume keywords are still great.

Check out other Amazon Affiliate Site Success Stories here.

Here is the Transcript of the Interview

Doug:        This is another success story interview. In this interview, I talk to Graham, who reached just about $1,500 a month. Now, he’s a Five Figure Niche Site student, so it was pretty cool to catch up with him. I also had the pleasure of meeting Graham a few weeks back, so we’ll insert a little intro here.

Before we get started, I want to warn you that the audio and video quality suffered quite a bit through the process, so Graham was very patient working with me, and hopefully, you’ll be patient too. Now, I will provide a transcript as well, so check the link in the description in case you want to dig a little deeper and read through the interview.

Sorry about the audio quality and the video quality. I’m not sure what happened. I think it could be some connection issues, but anyway, without further ado, let’s go over to the interview.

<On location>

What’s up? I’m actually on location with Graham here. We happen to be close by, so I came by to say hello. How are you doing today?

Graham:                       Hello there, Mr.. It’s nice to meet you in person.

Doug:        Yeah, and not that many people are in the Bozeman area, so when he was going to be close by I thought, “Hey, we should do something.” We’re hanging out, we had a couple beers earlier. Beautiful weather here, sort of near the Grand Teton National Park.

We’re going to show you an interview in a second, and we’re going to go over three main points. We’ll have to massage this and figure out how we’re going to say it, but there are three really cool things that we’re going to talk about in the interview. First, let’s talk about revenue. In the last month, how’d you do?

Graham:                       I just cracked the four-figure mark last month. I did about $1,200, and it looks like I should do about $1,200 this month again.

Doug:        Cool, and then how about traffic? What are you looking at for traffic?

Graham:                       Traffic I’m averaging about I would say 1,400 a day, something like that.

Doug:        Okay, that’s a lot of traffic, sweet. I guess one of the other big points that I know, just we’ve been chatting about internet marketing for like a lot of hours now, but basically, I mean, you really have some persistence that a lot of people don’t have. It’s interesting, because when you first started working with me, your site was a little … the niche was …

Graham:                       It was bad.

Doug:        Yeah, it was not ideal, however, you’re so stubborn that you stuck with it … I mean, I took a look, and I gave the blessing, and I’m like, “All right, I think you can do it.” You persevered, and it’s working out. Now, we got a full interview, we’re going to get into the details, but I thought we could do a live intro since we’re actually standing here next to each other. You ready to go to the interview?

Graham:                       Let’s do it.

Doug:        All right. Hey, it’s Doug here. I’m sitting with my friend Graham. How are you doing today?

Graham:                       Hey, Dougie, I’m phenomenal. How are you?

Doug:        Doing well. It’s summer time here in Bozeman, so I look shiny. It’s actually sweat, it’s warm in this room, and I had to turn the AC off while we’re recording. How is it where you’re at? Where are you located, by the way?

Graham:                       I’m in Boston, so it’s nice. I’m sure the listeners really want to hear about the weather patterns in my life, but it was really hot, and now it’s cooled down. The whole city gets really happy when it’s nice out, because the winters are so brutal.

Doug:        Oh yeah, totally.

Graham:                       It’s beautiful.

Doug:        All right, you’re right. Nobody wants to hear about the weather. Let’s get into the results, Graham. Totally right. So you’re a student of Five Figure Niche Site. You enrolled like last summer, so we’re coming up on one year. Can you tell us about revenue and traffic on your site?

Graham:                       Yeah, I was June 2017, and then I had a site … my main site was live for about probably three or four months before I found you and found all your great content. I like to preface that because my results have been pretty good, but I also have had a little bit more time, and I don’t want to be unfair or anything, if that makes sense.

Anyways, revenue, I did about $1,450 bucks last month, and that was with about 45,000 people. This month, July 2018, I’m hoping to do 1,600 to 1,700 and about 50,000-ish people. So it’s growing month after month.

Doug:        Very cool, congratulations, by the way. It’s an awesome amount of revenue and a ton of traffic. Really cool. I know what your site is because when you joined up I took a look, and I was like, “This is kind of a rough niche. I don’t know if you should move forward with it.”

After we talked, we’re like, “Let’s see what you can do.” How did you persevere knowing that it wasn’t … you’re not personally interested in it, it seemed to be kind of a weird one. Yeah, just tell us how you pushed through.

Even in a bad Niche…

Graham:                       That’s a very generous retelling, my friend. How I remember it is you said … For all the listeners out there, Doug is the nicest guy, so he was like, “I don’t know about this. It’s a weird niche, the product price is really low, there’s some weird authority sites.” You pretty much said, “Don’t do it,” and I essentially said, “I’m stubborn, so …”

How did I do it, man, was perseverance. I guess in retrospect I should have just not been so stubborn, and I guess probably spent all the time that I’ve worked on it following the course more, and starting a new site, but I’ve made it work, I suppose.

Doug:        Right, but and I mean, I think that’s a good example too, where it looks like maybe it’s not a great one even to an expert, I would call myself an expert-

Graham:                       As would I.

Doug:        … so even for some people, I would say, “Ah, maybe somewhere else,” but you applied the lessons from the course and made it work, and exceeded my expectations, and probably your own too, right? Would you have imagined a year ago that we would be doing a success story on you after you made like 1,500 bucks?

Graham:                       Probably not on this first site, but again, I think part of it’s just a temperament thing. I would like to say that I work really hard and like to sink my teeth into things, but I think the reality is, I’m stubborn and maybe slightly obsessive about this stuff. I kind of had to make it work.

I don’t know, I think I’m a good example that I’m not … sometimes you’ll go on YouTube or on other authority sites, not to throw shade, and you’ll hear these stories about people who it’s like, “Oh, I made 50k in affiliate marketing in my first year. I’m already doing 5k a month or 4k a month,” or whatever.

I am not one of those examples. I’m doing great, and I’m super grateful for all the success, but I think if I can do this, anyone can do it, and anyone can do it in a bad niche. That doesn’t mean you should, but as long as you’re moving forward, you can’t fail. I say that only because … you’ve echoed this in some of your other … in you lovely, lovely content.

Most people fail in the beginning. They never even finish the course, or they register the site and then … hi Georgie … or they put out four articles and they don’t see anything, and they quit. Just get through that hump and it will come. Just keep moving forward.

Doug:        Indeed, yeah, and I think … I mean, that’s a perfect way to put it. Now, I’ll pull us back on track a little bit, because Georgie distracted me for a second. I’ll recap the results really quickly. So you’re making about $1,400, $1,500 a month currently. You’ve been growing it and the site’s roughly 15, 16 months old, something like that.

Graham:                       Yeah, yeah.

Doug:        Excellent. Now, we’ll dig into the details, some of your strategies and stuff like that. Before we do, just curious about your background, education, stuff like that.

Who Is Graham?

Graham:                       Background, education. Who is Graham? I graduated from school here in Boston with a degree in Information Systems, so I was always kind of tech/business oriented. I supposed I come from a long line of salesman, so I guess this is kind of sales, right?

I was working in real estate for a while, and then I found this. Honestly, I just kind of fell in love with affiliate marketing. I don’t know what it is, it’s something about watching the numbers tick up. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world.

Doug:        It’s pretty fun, and from the intro, people know that you and I hung out for a little bit, because we were sort of in the same region. It’s not often when someone comes anywhere close to Bozeman, Montana, so we hung out some. I was going to say, I had to give you some advice on not being so obsessive on checking your stats, but it’s totally natural when you’re just getting started.

I hear you on just liking the affiliate marketing model, because it’s like you control it at that point, versus having to work for a company, which I did for a long time. All right, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of your site, from a content standpoint. How did you approach it before you started working with me and then afterwards, and what’s your approach with content?

Graham:                       When I started, it was all just really bad. I had no system, and I was just throwing things out there. I had some guidelines, I’m shooting for 1,000 word articles or whatever, but right here like a newbie, and you don’t know what you’re doing. It was just all bad, right?

I think before I stumbled across your content, which was really was a game changer for me. I found a way to systematize it and all that stuff. I had like two sales and I made my first dollar, and I was just hooked. I knew I wasn’t doing things optimally, but I knew this dream is real, and you can do it.

I got my first few sales, and then I was real excited, and then actually, Amazon rejected my first application, which was a real gut-punch.

It turns out I was just … the site was just not good. It looked kind of spammy, and I was pulling the images wrong.

Finding the Keyword Golden Ratio

Anyways, found your stuff, learned about Keyword Golden Ratio. TheKeyword Golden Ratio is really like the bread and butter for everything I do. That’s probably been the most important thing in the development of my life as an affiliate marketer. I honestly, I applied everything that you said in the course.

Doug:        The framework. It works.

Graham:                       You know. It works.

Doug:        So you were writing about 1000 words per post or something like that. How long is your content now, by the way?

Graham:                       I’m up to about 70 posts now, and at around the probably the 45-50 postmark. I was getting burned out, right? Because it’s hard, right? It’s hard to write 1000, 2000, 3000 words every day. Usually what I do, I have a couple of writers, and I’ll find the keywords and I’ll send them the stuff. And then usually what they send back to me is anywhere from 80 to 90% complete, so like … and that’s fine for me. I can spend like an hour or two like adding little products, or adding stock images, or adding the links, you know, all that stuff.

And I’m honestly, I’m really happy with that system because what I do best I feel like is fine. The keywords, find the opportunities, right, and then I let these lovely writers like kind of do the groundwork. And I’m happy because like I get to do what I love, and they’re happy because I’m paying them a fair wage.

Doug:        Very good. And you know, I’ve kind of find that too, because I’m a slow writer and typer and stuff. So it’s much better for like people that are qualified to write to do that and then I can edit it okay. But yeah, cool. And where do you find the writers?

Graham:                       Well, just on Upwork? I can’t remember … I think I got this advice from the course was to just like hire … I hired like five, and I can’t remember the exact words, the exact numbers, but I sent out like … I hired five, and then like two were really bad, and one just like plagiarized another article, and then two were like really good. And then like overtime they adapt to kind of your style, and your wants, and your needs and so now I have two really great writers who I’m really happy with. But for like, for the newbies out there, like definitely stick at it because the first time I hired a writer it just went like horribly, and I was like, “All right, I’m never doing this again.” It’s really good, and like anything else it takes time to really optimize the system.

Doug:        Yeah. It’s a skill for sure. And I think yeah, that is from the course. Like you’re probably going to have to hire about twice as many people as you need, because some people are bad. I mean, you may get lucky and 80% of them are going to be good, but you also may end up on the other end, where only like one out of five is good. But yeah, it’s going to be a little rocky at first for sure.

Graham:                       Yeah. And I always tell people like, keep in mind it’s an investment. Like people are really adverse. Like they really don’t want to spend the money sometimes, and I’m like, “I’m living proof that with my not great niche, like you … the money comes back and it comes back over time.” I think I pay my writers like 20, 25 bucks an article, or something like that.

Doug:        Let’s change gears and talk about keyword research. So, you mentioned that the keyword golden ratio has been really helpful for you. So, can you-

Graham:                       It changed my life.

Doug:        … talk about that a little, and then also like just if you had trouble at the beginning finding the keywords.

Graham:                       Oh absolutely. I have a tendency to like get meta and rant, so I apologize. But like any other part of this, like it’s the hardest at the beginning. Right? So in the beginning I just  remember seeing, I think your original video and the Keyword Golden Ratio, and I remember being like, “I don’t want him to do all this work.” And then I like tried doing it, and I like … For those of you who are familiar with the Keyword Golden Ratio, anything above like .25-ish is hard to compete, right? Or slightly more difficult to compete, and then anything over like one is like really hard to compete. I was finding like threes and fours and fives, like no, like terrible keywords, right? But eventually over time you just get better at doing it, and you get better kind of like feeling out like, “Oh, this could be a good part of this niche. This could be a good information or guide,” and then you find them.

How to get faster at the KGR

Doug:        And I think, I mean that’s a great point. Like anything that you’re just starting out at and then you see an expert do it. It looks impossible, right? I mean you could pick like any example. I don’t know, like juggling, or playing basketball, or anything like that. The first time you go out on the court, or you’re trying to juggle … I don’t know why I picked those examples by the way. I don’t know. It has to do with balls, I think that’s why. So, the thing is it looks impossible, but once you spend some time like you can really get better at it. So, nowadays right, like you can find Keyword Golden Ratio terms much faster, right?

Graham:                       Yeah. It feels really good because it’s like … you’re like, “Oh, this is another opportunity.” I don’t know, when I’m doing keyword research you’ll just go on this little run where you find 20 of them. And you’re like, you know, “Awesome.” So, stay with it.

Doug:        And do you have any tips for like, you know, down in the weeds like technically do you have any tips on like how people can find them a little more easily?

Graham:                       Definitely download Keywords Everywhere. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it gives you a little … It’s this like browser extension that gives you an estimate for a local monthly search volume, and that makes it really easy to just … Like  everywhere you go on the Internet when you’re doing your daily life, you can like just kind of start to get a feel for things, and you can find them much more easily I suppose.

Doug:        Nice. Yeah, I use Keywords Everywhere as well and yeah, so it’s a great tool and it’s free. So, we’ll definitely link it up. All right, so moving on to like link building, so this is one of the things that people hate doing by the way. So, have you done link building? I don’t even know.

Graham:                       This is like the area where I am most deficient. I have done some kind of basic blog commenting and stuff like that, but like no real outreach or anything substantial like that. And I know I should.

Doug:        Cool. Well I mean, the thing is a lot of people don’t like link building so there’s so many of these keyword golden ratio stories where it’s basically, I just published some content that was pretty good. Follow the Keyword Golden Ratio, didn’t have to do link building. That’s great. I mean if you do that, fantastic. Now if you can, you know, manage to build some links, I mean I usually see things get better, but I mean if you could do it without building links, I mean more power to you, of course.

Graham:                       It’s the kind of thing where like the barriers to entry for this are so low that like if you’re willing to take the time to reach out to people like in organizations, and all that sort of stuff because it’s … 99.9% of your competition is never ever going to do any of that stuff, and it’s just one more way to separate yourself off from your competition. Do as I say, not as I do, I guess.

Low Barrier to Entry for Amazon Affiliate Niche Site

Doug:        Right. And I think … I mean you made a really … like the whole point is the barrier to entry, you’re right, is super low. Like you can start a site, and buy like a premium theme, and get a year of hosting and probably a tool or two for like 200 bucks, right? Really low amount of investment, and then if you’re willing to say look up keyword golden ratio terms that seems hard to do, right? It takes a little while to do it, and then you’re willing to do some outreach where most people are not going to go to Linkedin, find people that will interact with you, and potentially like a promote your site. Let you do a guest post, link to your site, whatever, right? Most people are not going to do any of that stuff. So yeah, really good point on that.

And that’s a good process that you described too, where you’re like, go to Linkedin, you know, check organizations, like reach out to them in a channel that is not crowded. Like, I mean, I get and you probably do too, I get like two or three emails per day asking for guest posts. Most of them just get deleted now, because there’s just so much garbage. But on Linkedin, I mean no one’s reaching out to me on Linkedin at all. No one reached out to Linkedin. But, anyway yeah. Good, good point. Good point there. So let’s talk about mistakes. All right, so we want to learn from your mistakes. You’ve made a couple, at least along the way, maybe more. So what can you share with us?

What NOT to do… Making Mistakes

Graham:                       Well, the first big mistake was like picking a terrible a niche, and then picking a terrible domain name. Like a not very brandable domain name. So, I would say like rule of thumb, just make sure it’s not … make sure it’s not awful domain name. You know, like make sure it’s not something where people are going to go like, “What?” You know what I mean?

Doug:        And I know Graham’s domain name, and I’m just imagining like if he had like hats and tee shirts and stuff, you’re like, “Oh.” I mean, I can’t say it but it would be pretty funny to see that, you know.

Graham:                       It would be no good.

Doug:        Graham is super patient. We’ve had many technical issues probably on my side. I made him switch laptops, made of do all sorts of stuff. We’re coming back to talk about mistakes. So, Graham was just saying that the domain name, he made a poor decision at the beginning before he started with Five Figure Niche Sites. So, that would be something to tweak, but it didn’t hold you back, you know. It didn’t hold you back, and that’s a good lesson there. So, what are some other mistakes that you’ve learned along the way you could share with the audience?

Done is Better than Perfect

Graham:                       I would say one of the big ones, like in the beginning, when you’re new you’re always super focused on things like what color should my button be? And like, what is the best theme to optimize conversions? All that stuff, and like those matter but like not really. Because like the old phrase like content is king, if I could go back in time and like redirect all that time and energy I wasted worrying about the color of my buttons. I’d have like 50 more [inaudible 00:21:21] and a lot more money coming through every month. So, just like focus, get everything like done is better than perfect. So like, make sure it’s passable, it’s fine, and then just like … The job is the content, you know. The moneymaker is the content, and link building and all that stuff. But, the summation is don’t spend time on things that don’t really matter. Focus on the stuff that’ll make you money.

Doug:        Indeed. Yeah. And you know, I hear that often where it’s like, you know, just get something out that’s good enough, you can adjust along the way. And your site is a classic example of that because the domain name isn’t great, but it’s good enough.

Graham:                       It’s no good.

Doug:        When I first saw your site it looked a little spammy, but it was good enough.

Graham:                       No good.

Doug:        You may have tweaked a couple things and eventually you honed in on the most important parts. That is the most important thing. All right. Very cool. Any other mistakes that you want to share?

Graham:                       I know I harp on this all the time, but the other thing is that people expect this to be quick and easy money, and in reality it takes a lot of time, hard work and patience. I guess the big mistake I made was expecting fast results and not enjoying the journey. Not to make it all hippy dippy but set reasonable goals that you can accomplish and then feel good about it. Right?

Like, alright, I want to put out 10 posts this month, or whatever, five posts. I want to make 50 dollars on this new site within six months. Okay. That’s doable. People set these incredibly high goals, like I want to make 10K a month in six months and then they never start because it’s not … that would require so much work that it’s just not feasible.

How has niche site success changed your life?

Doug:        Right. This success of your site is impressive. Given all the hard work and time you’ve put in, how has it impacted your life?

Graham:                       It’s been tremendous. It’s given me so much more time. I do this from home. I don’t have to commute. I don’t have to change into a suit. I can decide to go to the gym during the middle of the day when it’s not busy because that’s what I want to do. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Doug Cunnington has changed my life. This stuff works and it’s incredible.

Literally, all the changes have been … I will say it can be isolating at times. But, that’s a super small price to pay. You call up your buddies or you Skype with your friend Doug or whatever.

Doug:        Right on. Thank for saying that, I really appreciate it of course. For people who are … I mean, you’ve given bits and pieces of advice for new people, but for some person who maybe they just started their site or maybe they’re looking to start their site, what advice would you give them? To help replicate what you’ve done.

Graham:                       This might be boring, but it’s really the same advice. Just keep working hard, focus on things that matter and be patient. It takes time. It’ll take less time the more you learn and refine your skills, but it takes time.

I’m sure you can attest to this and I’m sure your students and listeners can. When you first start doing research for certain keywords or for a certain niche or whatever, you see … I mean, I saw dozens and dozens and dozens of dead sites. Sites that have 10 posts, 15 posts. They were ranking, they were ranking for what I was searching for but people just went silent they just expected too much too quickly, and if they instead were slow and steady they could be making well into four or even five figures now.

Why buy Five Figure Niche Site (or any course)

Doug:        For sure. All right. Good advice. I agree on all points. Now, one last question. Depending on when people are going to watch this, they may or may not be able to enroll in Five Figure Niche Site, but enrollment opens soon, right?  Enrollment is probably coming up soon from when we’re recording this. I recently received an email, someone was like “Hey, who would pay you, Doug, 2000 dollars to buy a course. I thought you were a genuine guy, but I see I’m wrong.”

I was like “Hold on. The price of the course does not make one genuine or not.” The person, by the way, we had a good interaction, but why would you pay 2000 bucks for a course where maybe you can learn that stuff for free on YouTube or whatever?

How did you make that decision?

Graham:                       In the past, I took another course, and I won’t mention the name of the marketer or anything like that, but it really wasn’t good. It led me to create this crappy site and I felt burned by it. Absolutely. I’m sure many people have been burned by it.

I stumbled across your content. You have such a rich amount of great free content. I emailed you and you seemed like not a snake oil salesman. I was able to implement some of your ideas and I started seeing success almost immediately, within a month or so.

I knew that it was, or at least I had the gut feeling that it was legit. I purchased the course. We’re friends now, but I’m not just out here shilling your stuff. It’s phenomenal. It changed my life. The reason why I would say it’s worth it to be a Five Figure Niche Site student is yes, you can find a lot of the information online for free. There’s no doubt about that and you’ve always been up front and honest about it.

The thing is, though, many people who want to start on this journey don’t have hundreds of hours to digest all this scattered information throughout the internet. They can’t tell … there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s not good advice. In the beginning you can’t tell what’s good and what’s not; what’s going to harm you and what’s going to set you up for success.

By enrolling in Five Figure Niche Site, you’re essentially getting the blueprints to success, right? I don’t know. It was totally worth it for me. If you’re not going to buy the course, but you still love what Doug is teaching you, then be a nice person and use his affiliate links because I know him, and he spends hours and hours and hours just helping people without any sort of monetary return from it.

Doug:        Thanks.

Graham:                       I wish I used your hosting affiliate links, and your SEO affiliate links, but-

Doug:        C’mon man, you’ve got to use the links.

All right. Cool. I’m glad you said that stuff. When you look at … I mean, the course isn’t for everyone, right? Some people just don’t like me, all right? So that’s fair, too. They like other people instead.

When you look at the actual ROI, from you bought the course and in the last two months you’ve already made more than the course cost. Then you have an asset worth potentially $20k to $35k. Something like that, right? That works. Obviously, you put in a ton of time, I’m not taking into account your time, and the hard work, and all that, but yeah, from a monetary standpoint, it’s like if it’s the right person, at the right time, the course can be a great investment.

I personally have bought courses that were … I didn’t buy any courses for the first three years I was doing any of this stuff, but in the last couple years, I’ve bought courses that were $1000 to $4000 dollars, and 100 percent made their money back. You get access to ask questions to experts, which is part of one of the big values is you can send me an email and I’ll answer your question. Or, potentially, talk to you and help you through an issue. Anyway, we’ll get off that soapbox.

All right. Thanks Graham for taking the time to talk to me and the Niche Site Project audience. You keep a low profile, which I appreciate, so if people want to get in touch with you, you can ask questions in the comments or Graham’s in the Five Figure Niche Site Facebook group.  If you do join up as a student, he lurks in there a little bit. Thanks, Graham, really appreciate it.

Graham:                       Thank you Dougie. Talk to you soon.

Doug:        I want to thank Graham for joining me and sharing his story. Hopefully, in a few months, we’ll get an update from Graham and we can do a follow up interview. If you have any questions for Graham, be sure to leave a comment and he’ll check them out.

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Doug Cunnington, PMP

I show people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. I love creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but not at the same time).

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