Niche Site Case Study Summer Update [Starting From Scratch]

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Revenue is $1,052 so far in 2016. Not bad for a person totally new to niche sites and 7 months of efforts. The great part is that Jim knows it’s possible now. He has proof – and it’s in his bank account.

Earnings are down.

But it’s not a surprise at all.

Let me rewind for a minute, though. Jim Horner learned about niche sites back in January of 2016. By late February, I took Jim on as a coaching student for a case study where the goal is to make $2,000 per month. Jim saw guys like Dave, Josh, and Rob, and thought

“Hey, I want to do that too!”

Jim knows it’s going to take a while to accomplish and the path to $2,000 would be more like a roller coaster.

CONTENT 400And you can see below, that the earnings aren’t breaking any records, but what cool is that Jim beat all 3 of the Niche Pursuits students through July and August in terms of revenue. It’s because of 3 things:

  1. Keyword Golden Ratio
  2. The Content Traffic Profit Sprint
  3. A Focus on Early Small Wins

The combination of those 3 things help a lot in the first 6 to 12 months of a niche site. I get so many emails from people asking “why isn’t my site ranking?” and it’s because they didn’t do the 3 things above.


Back to the Starting From Scratch Update

Jim had a good summer where revenue was up and traffic was up. Here are the earnings for the quarter, July to September.


Here are the traffic stats from Google Analytics. You can see that the average time on the site is a bit low at under 1 minute for Organic Traffic. The referral traffic stays on the site for a lot longer, almost 6 minutes.channels_-_analyticsamazon-affiliate-site-case-study

The thing is the site targets a seasonal niche and the interest in the topic drops off like a cliff once fall arrives. To hedge that decline, Jim created another site which is covered in this post. I would normally oppose starting a new site so quickly after launching your first one, but because of the seasonal aspect starting a new site made good sense.

Click here if you want over 15,000 keywords (about 1,000 keywords for the sites featured in the Amazon Affiliate Examples) – Just enter your email address and I’ll send them to you.

Jim mountainOver to Jim…

Well it’s official, I’ve been hit with the seasonality bug… When I first launched the site I was so new that I hadn’t considered the effect that would have on my niche and how I would combat it.

After chatting with Doug about I think I’ve come up with a couple good workarounds and am still publishing content, in fact I’m trying to increase my output.

Losing Enthusiasm?

Another thing that I’m facing and that I’d heard about early on was the 6-8 month timeframe when the work becomes rote and you struggle with finding the passion that you had in the first two months. I’ve definitely had my days when the last thing I wanted to do was get on the computer and start writing.

And you know what?

I took a few of those days, jumped on the bike, took a day off and recharged. It’s so important to set realistic expectations not just for you business but for yourself too. It helped, I came back and got to business.

Doug’s Notes:

Jim still accomplished a lot over the last few months…Here is a summary:

  • 1st Niche Site
    • 11 Articles went live
    • 2 Guest Posts accepted
  • 2nd Niche Site
    • 39 Articles went live
    • 3 Guest Posts accepted

Niches With Seasonality

Seasonality may have hit my business but the cold and rain that we’re starting to see now here in Montana has given me every excuse to get deeper into my work. Posting up in a coffee shop, finding writers, editing content, doing keyword research, doing some guest post outreach and just putting all of my energy into the site while it’s 40 and raining is actually really nice.

With the most recent Moz update my site’s DA has increased to 23 and I’m able to start ranking a lot quicker with new content especially since I’ve got keywords with great Keyword Golden Ratios (KGR).

Here is the overview from SEM Rush:


Backlink Profile and Anchor Text Distribution

Here is the summary from Majestic. We show 32 referring domains with a decent number of them close to the Trust = Citation Flow line.


About 75% of the links (about 24), are do-follow links and that’s why this site is ranking in Google and getting traffic.


Fall Strategy – MORE Content

So my Fall Strategy has been to crank out a ton of content while I’ve got a lot of motivation to do so. I’ve used the techniques that Doug taught me on hiring new writers to bring a couple more into the fold to start getting more content up.

With all things on UpWork you have to wade through a couple less than ideal candidates but my approach is to be as clear as possible. I had a writer submit work with no keyword phrases in it, 0. I explicitly stated that I needed it’s exact match 7-8 times, short answer, he didn’t get more work.

I’ve also approached a writer that I have been working with about becoming a content manager, she said she would love to and now the game is going to be getting her work. Back to UpWork we go to find some good writers.

Upcoming Goals for the Next 60 Days

[Doug’s Note: It’s really important to have Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic goals with a Timeframe – SMART Goals. I talk about it a lot in the productivity masterclass. If your goals are weak, like “publish more content,” you’re likely to fail. So when you have goals, be sure you follow the SMART Goal methods.

1st Niche Site

  • Really ramp up content output to combat seasonality – The goal is 20 articles.
  • Keyword research – find new and creative ways for more content.
  • 4-6 GP’s (secondary to more content right now but that would be my ideal scenario in two months).

2nd Niche Site

  • Hire 4-6 writers to get content that the new content manager can process.
  • Train the content manager to work on the back end of WordPress without direction.
  • Publish 10 – 15 new articles.
  • 4-6 more Guest Posts.


Overall the last few months have been good. The height of my earnings were above $340 in August, that was with a new site and I’m thinking that with some hard work this winter I’ll see some significant gains.

That’s all for now! Go forth and conquer!


This is Doug again. So Jim lifted the gas on the project of niche sites a bit and the result was less published content and fewer guest posts. Distractions happen to us all: family, friends, job, or whatever.

Sometimes other, very interesting projects are the distraction. Jim got distracted by something interesting and we’ll share a video next week all about that – stay tuned!

Now Over To You

What do you think of the progress on the journey from $0 to $2,000 per month?

Do you think Jim is doing well?

What would you do if you had 2 niche sites growing at the same time?

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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Niche Website Builders help their customers build and grow more profitable content sites. They offer a fully hands-off approach for all the services that they offer.For example, their content creation service includes their proprietary keyword research process, articles are written by in-house native English speakers, formatted using review templates that are proven to convert and uploaded to WordPress with affiliate links added so that all you need to do is review and click publish.

This makes their service perfect for both beginners wondering where to start, through to experienced portfolio owners looking to scale their operations

They also offer ‘done for you’ site builds and link building services.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hey Jim,

    Awesome stuff. Hope to see the site grow and grow

    Just a query though about the “backlinks:referring domains” ratio.

    Over 3K backlinks from 32 domains. Is this not seen as spammy in google’s eyes ?

    • Hey BCK, Thanks for the comment.
      Well, no. Google is smart enough to discount those duplicate terms on certain sites. That’s why it’s a good idea to nofollow your category & tag pages.

      Additionally, it’s likely that those links are blog comments and that means they are nofollow.

      So it probably doesn’t matter. If you have other data or disagree, let me know.

    • Jim

      Hi BCK-
      Yeah, lots and lots of blog commenting. Like Doug said, with the final roll out of Penguin 4.0 Google can fine tune it’s scrutiny of sites.

  • Nice going Jim. But 4 to 6 writers and one content manager,how much do you want to spend on each site?

    • Sree, are you thinking that’s too many writers? Or what is your concern?

    • Jim

      Hi Sree-
      Those are my ideals and not my realities quite yet. I’ve gotten two writers really dialed in to what I’m looking for right now and hopefully down the line as the site brings in more money I’ll be more able to expand with freelancers. I don’t mind reinvesting all of my profit back into the site for this growth period. If I really get after it I can spend $150-200/month with writers. Right now it’s about getting a lot of content up, I’m able to post articles with great KGR and see them debut in the top 10 a day later.

  • Brian

    Nice overview. That a lot content, is every article at least 1000workds. Curious what kind of pricing do you pay for writers on upwork for decent quality.

    • Jim

      Hi Brian-
      I pay an introductory rate for a trail article to gauge the quality of the writer. If the first article goes well then I bump up the per article price. My intro offer is anywhere from $7.50 – $9 depending on the length of the article that I want written. For a 1,200 word article I’ll start at the lower end of that and go from there.
      Hope it helps,

    • Brian, I pay a tad more than Jim for content as a general rule. And I have a couple editors and other people working that make the overall cost per article higher.

      So I have less work to do, but it costs more.

  • Hey Jim.

    This is so great. Congratulations and hope to see the site grow and grow.

    So you got 32 referring domains and 24 of them are dofollow,right? my question is how you get that 24 dofollow backlink except guest posting?

    sorry for broken english, iam still learning 🙂

    • Hey Randika, it’s probably mostly guest posting. A few of the blog comments will be do-follow, but only a tiny fraction.

      I have to ask you a followup:
      Why are you interested in non guest posting links?

      • Randy

        A lot of people who don’t speak English as their native will/do struggle with guest posting because of their limitations in the language. Therefore, it tends to be a bit more of a higher expense to pay someone to write a high quality guest post in most cases if you’re not in the US/UK/AUS or other country with a somewhat good economy and good paying job. Next up is searching out blogs, contacting the owner, tracking all that, etc. Lots of work there too.

        I think that’s possibly why you see a lot of people in general gravitate to other methods where you can spin an article and post to a PBN. Or, spin content and run something like senuke. Those concepts are very easy to understand (upon first glance, but not in practice) and the lure of using software to automate is very intoxicating.

        Honestly, I admit that guest posting just sounds boring to me. Plus, when I google Guest Post Service you get costs of $100 minimum. That can scare people away if they aren’t versed in finding cheap writers and then editing. For $100 I can automate content production for PBN’s, money site filler, link pyramids, etc ($37/month), content posting/automated software ($38/month), and hosting ($25/month). This line of thinking can make a lot of sense for someone VS the $100 a pop for a guest post if you can’t/won’t write it yourself. Is this safe/effective? To me, it’s an individual choice and it’s very easy to overdo the automation and go nowhere – even get yourself deindexed.

        • Hey Randy, our name is almost same, right? And you are abosolutely right, that’s my problem. But for Doug’s question, why I interest to non guest posting links is, regarding Doug’s notes that tell Jim’s blog is only have 2 and 3 accepted guest posting, however Jim got 34 referring domains, so that’s why I Interest to asking that.

        • Randy, Great points! All of them.

          The lure of using software to automate is very intoxicating.
          Yeah, I tried to do that early on and found that it wasn’t working, at least, not how I was doing it. 🙂 Eventually, that sort of stuff got my sites penalize which SUCKED!

          It is an individual choice and Gray Hat works. There are dozens of examples of that in the little sphere of niche sites. For me, I can’t handle the risk and I have the time to go the long path of guest posting.

          Have you been able to make the Gray Hat plan that you outlined work?

    • Jim

      Hi Randika-
      Yes, lots of guest posts but I also focus on finding places to comment that have Do Follow links associated with them. If I find one, I sign up for the newsletter or email list to be notified whenever they have a new post so that I can make sure to get a comment up early.

  • Hung Pham

    Hi Jim,
    what about average price of product on your sites?. Are they high price products on Amazon? Thanks!

    • Jim

      Hey Hung-
      I have a pretty wide price range on my site. My top performing products are in the $50-120 range. I have some product pages that are ranking #1 in the serps but they are high priced items ($500-1000) and I haven’t sold 1 unit of those yet.

  • Given Google has changed the monthly search results to a range (i.e. 1k-10k) rather than precise numbers, how do you recommend doing the golden keyword ratio calculations?

    • Jim

      Hi Chad-
      There are a number of plugins for the different browsers out there. Personally, I use Keywords Everywhere, it works great for me and my KGR calcs.
      Hope it helps,

      • Chad Westby

        Thanks Jim! I’ll check out that plugin.

  • Robert

    …For someone who started in early this year, i think he did really good and starting a new site and follows thru with it because the 1st niche is seasonal shows us that he can adapt and is not afraid to take chances.

    …@ 2 niche sites growing, …well i never had that experience, but if i did, i would first:
    –Make sure they are properly secure that no one can hack into them.
    –i would ask Doug for advice asap
    –i would google
    “what should i do if i have two niche sites growing at the same time?” that’s pretty obvious :p
    …i’m sure i will have a lot of questions.

    in conclusion,
    If these sites are bringing in enough revenue that matches my 9-5 income then i would continue hustling for another 6 months while still holding down the job. Then i would expect for my affiliate income to surpass my 9-5 salary in that time frame and i would leave the job in good terms.

  • zak

    Great work buddy.
    i know this sounds stupid and probably you’ve been asked this question a lot ^_^
    when you guys create a brand new niche site from scratch, do you guys start with a brand new domain that has never been used and has no backlinks what so ever or you guys buy an aged domain and then start the niche site from there?


    • Jim

      Hey Zak-
      The way I’ve done it is just starting from absolute scratch, new domain, new everything.

    • Zak, thanks for reading the post.

      I normally go for a new domain…but I’m testing the aged domain concept in the future. I know you’d want to get an aged domain that’s clean, i.e. no spammy activity has taken place related to the domain.