Digital Nomad Eric Carrell Is Building Niche Sites For the Future and “Loathes PBNs”

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I recently caught up with my buddy, Eric Carrell, for a Five Figure Niche Site interview**. I met Eric a few years back through his brother, Perrin. We’ve kept in touch ever since and we were even in a small mastermind group for a while.medellin

Eric told his story a while back and this is a continuation of that. It turns out that he sold that site and he’s building a new one.

The really cool thing is that he’s living the digital nomad dream – traveling the world. He currently calls Brazil home.

(**The interview is included in the bonus footage where I talk with successful niche site owners. We pull back the curtain and talk shop. If you’re interested in building a niche site from scratch, then be sure to sign up for the wait list for FFNS.)

We learn about:

  • Eric’s new site and he reveals the domain.
  • The site that we covered last time and how it was sold for just under $10,000.
  • Why Eric will NOT touch PBNs anymore.
  • 3 link building tactics that Eric uses to rank in a STRICTLY White Hat way.
  • The 3 things a new niche site creator should focus on.
  • And what you need to do to replicate Eric’s success.

Here’s Eric…


What site or sites do you want to share today? Is it the same one from your original success story? You can reveal the site if you want, or not…totally up to you.

The site that I’m mainly working on is called True North Athletics. I actually started it in October of 2014, but I wanted to let it age through the sandbox, so I threw a few articles on it and basically forgot about it for a year.

The site that I had last time I was on here was sold in November of 2015 for just under 5 figures. I used a portion of the profit from that site to invest in True North Athletics.

How much are you making from the website right? Or, how much did you sell it for?

streetartrioThe site that I had the last time I was on Niche Site Project was sold in November 2015 for just under 5 figures. True North Athletics, my current site isn’t making much. I just started working on it in November 2015, and I’m just now in the link building process. It’s a broad site, so it will take a lot of links to really get the traffic flowing. However, I’m trying some cool link building tactics, I’m getting organic traffic and ranking decently. I’m optimistic that this site will be successful.

Some people love PBNs, others hate them. Where do you stand on PBNs?

I loath PBNs. I know some people might get offended by this, but I just don’t think they’re good business. PBNs are expensive and the lengths that some of my friends go through to hide them and build them is just a absurd.

parque lageWhite hat link building is cheaper, more rewarding, and more powerful. Also, it’s well-known that Google’s web spam team is actively trying to crush PBNs across the web. Since I choose to just use one authority site, I don’t want the risk. I guess if I had a secondary site that wasn’t going to make or break me I’d try some black hat tactics for fun, but there’s no way I’d bet my income on it.


Did you use PBNs on your site?

When I built the site I had when I was on here last I used PBNs, and they worked well for me. But once I moved out of the United States I decided that I wanted to minimize the risk, so I moved to a white hat agenda and took the PBNs out.

How are you doing link building now? What’s the best use of your time for link building?

I’m on a strict white hat agenda. I use a ton of different tactics, and my brother Perrin and I constantly throw ideas around on different link building strategies.

louve paris

My main strategy is guest posting. Contextual links on good authority sites work best in my opinion. I think for people wanting to start link building, “Links & Resources” pages are a good place to start. They convert well and they’re easy to get generally.

(Doug’s Note: Read about a successful guest posting case study for a brand new niche site.)

equator.ecuadorWhen I see a high authority site in my niche, I’ve also done “spotlight” articles. I write a 500-700 word brief on their organization or site, then I tell them about it and they usually link back to me.

“Top lists” are another great way to get links. You can write about the 20 top sites in your niche and then send them a short email letting them know about it. This has yielded some good links.

What are the top 3 things that a newbie should focus on to prioritized?

Keyword research the right way. Programs like Long Tail Pro can be good for getting a comprehensive look at the SERP for certain keywords. But an SEO should also be familiar with things like reverse engineering to find good keywords that sites like yours are ranking for.

Secondly, you should focus on creating good content consistently. I think that Google values consistency more than people think. You don’t have to create hundreds of 2,000 word articles immediately. I think affiliate articles should be 1,000 – 1,500 words, and I also have “info” articles that are around 700 words. Get a good amount of articles up if you want to create a more authoritative site. I created and drip-fed 30 affiliate articles and 30 information articles before I started link building. I’m trying to create more and more information articles so that Google can see that I’m truly attempting to be a good resource for readers. Now I have 130+ articles on my site.

Lastly, once you have a good base of content, build a ton of links. A good way to get the ball rolling is a guestographic campaign or any of the tactics I mentioned previously. You should be consistently building links for a few months at least. Also, there is no magic number of links that will get you ranking, just build until you have natural links coming in and you’re ranking for more competitive keywords.


Is there anything that people seem to think is critical that you don’t think is very important?

A few things maybe. There seems to be a big community of Google update hawks. People who always want to know when the next update is coming so they can prepare.

Forget about it.

If you’re using a white hat agenda, then you’re going to have a long term site.

People are also obsessed with the niche site competition in their market (I was also guilty.) I don’t worry about other niche sites in my market. In fact, I welcome them.

red light district amsterdam

Other niche sites in my market tells me that Google likes those types of sites for that market, and if they’re using PBNs, they won’t be around long anyways. The only time I even look at them is to poach keywords and links.

(Doug’s Note: A great way to poach keywords is to use SEM Rush – get a free for the PRO trial here.)

Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to replicate your success with their own websites?

Execute. Sometimes I can get unmotivated even though I know exactly what needs to be done to make my site successful. If you do good research, create a bunch of well-optimized content, and build quality links through outreach, you’ll likely have success.

Do you have a blog or other place that people can following along with what you are doing?

I don’t have a blog where I talk about my work. I’m on Facebook, and I talk a lot about my travels through South America, and I’m on Google+, readers are free to follow me.


Thanks for sharing, Eric! And thanks for all the cool pictures. It looks like traveling is working well for you.

About the Author: Doug Cunnington is the founder of Niche Site Project. He shows people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. Doug loves creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but usually not at the same time).

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Thanks for posting this and I have to say that this is in my opinion great advice. This is exactly how I build my own sites and they all work really well. Keyword research, consistent good quality articles and then just forget about everything else…the traffic will and does come.

    • Hey Enda, thanks for the comment. I think like a lot of people want to feel like they are in control by using shortcuts, say for link building, but that aren’t any shortcuts. They really aren’t in control, or not as much as they think.

      It comes down to what you said:

      1. keyword research
      2. good quality articles
      3. focus on that work and not anything else.

  • Good to see you are living the dream Eric!

    Quick question – the site you sold for just under $10,000, how much was it making a month?

    • Eric Carrell


      I had sold in around November. During the summer it was making $1k+ per month, but after the summer ended, revenue dropped by at least half.

  • Hey Eric, great story! I’m with you 100% on the white hat only. I’m building a long term reliable business, and there’s no need to risk it at all. I gave up caring about Google updates over a year ago and I’ve never looked back. In fact I get better results than ever using only white hat tactics.

    Congrats on living the lifestyle you want – I’m working towards moving to the Philippines in Spring 2017 and can’t freakin’ wait!

    • Hey Dave, Thanks for the comment. There’s something to the long term and patient approach.

      Good Luck on you move!

  • Jamie Stewart

    Hi Eric,

    Glad to hear your new site is going well mate. Your old site is doing good and making some nice income now summer is in full swing 😉

    Love the travel pics as well! Keeps me motivated to keep building a location independent business. Catch up soon.

    • Hey Jamie, thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the pics – I was happy that Eric was willing to share them on the post.