Starting From Scratch: Jim’s Niche Site Case Study

This post may contain affiliate links so I earn a commission. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Jim and Lu

Here is Jim skiing with his dog. I didn’t even know dogs could ski!

This is part 1 of a series that outlines a brand new Amazon Affiliate Niche Site.

I won’t be creating this site.

My friend, Jim, will be doing everything from keyword research to choosing the theme to writing the content.

This is really cool for me because Jim is starting from scratch. He is in the same shoes as many of you…

Ive always hated having a boss, even at my first job as a supermarket bagger when I was 14 I remember having a visceral reaction to having someone tell me what to do and when.

– Jim Horner

He knew about niche sites for a while but never took action on it. Well, this all changed a few weeks ago. You know what, Jim can tell the story better than me…

Jim talks about:

  1. What his lifestyle will look like when he successfully built a niche site. (It’s pretty close to what most people aspire to.)
  2. The net income that makes Jim yell, “Hell Yeah!!“” (It’s a game-changing amount for anyone that doesn’t have a profitable niche site yet.)
  3. His prior knowledge around affiliate & niche sites. (It wasn’t much…)
  4. His concerns about trying to make affiliate marketing a full-time gig.  (The exact same as me when I was starting out.)
  5. How is understanding of niche sites has changed as he goes deeper and deeper.

Five Figure Niche Site will be coming out soon. Sign up for the wait list here.

See all the posts in the series – here.

Here is Jim

My niche site success is defined by a couple of different factors but there is one giant reason why Im here today, bosses.  

The average career-minded person will work close to 76,000 hours during their life…

Ive always hated having a boss, even at my first job as a supermarket bagger when I was 14 I remember having a visceral reaction to having someone tell me what to do and when.  

The average career-minded person will work close to 76,000 hours during their life, doing something I dont like for that long would leave me as a husk of the person I am.

The Lifestyle

Working about 10 hours a week while having the location independence to do it from wherever I want, whenever I want…

I want my lifestyle to defined by what I do all the time and before that was work some job that left me unfulfilled and constantly looking for some magic bullet that was going transform my situation.  

There is no such bullet until you decide to take matters into your own hands.  

Jim mountain 2My successful niche site lifestyle is the point at which I can run a successful website, working about 10 hours a week while having the location independence to do it from wherever I want, whenever I want.  And this is my overriding goal, freedom.

The “I’ve Made It Moment”

My Made Itmoment financially would be to make around $2K a month.  

I quit my job in December (remember the bosses thing) before that I knew what SEO stood for and that was about it.

This would represent what I was making at my last job and give me the freedom to pay my bills, take some of the burden off of my partner and do all the other things that we like to do.  

Of course it would always be great to increase this amount and I hope to readjust this amount to a higher bracket once the site is running well and more revenue streams come into play.

My background in websites and affiliate marketing is very new.  

I quit my job in December (remember the bosses thing) before that I knew what SEO stood for and that was about it.  Jim mountain

Then I started to consider alternative methods to creating a financial future for myself.  I learned everything I could about niche sites, affiliate marketing, WordPress, site design, hosting accounts, keyword research, competition analysis, competitive niches and even still Im learning and figuring stuff out.  

So I will use the old cliche, if I can figure it out, anybody can.

Major Concerns About Affiliate Marketing & Niche Sites

My main concerns are still the same as when I started out:  

  • Will this work?
  • Is this the real-deal?
  • Can I really earn full-time money by being online part-time?  
  • What will my parents think?  
  • What will my girlfriends parents think?  
  • Hell, whats my girlfriend going to think?  

I still fight with my internal skeptic on the bad days about the viability of this.

From there I want to scale it up, build more sites, make more money, but only if I can still retain my freedom.  

None of the things I was hearing online sounded like it was a reality and everything just seemed spammy, to be honest I was really gun shy about stepping into this world.  

I kept seeing things like How to make $500,000 a Month with FBA!, Make $1,000 an Hour While You Sleep!, How I Went from Broke to $1,000,000 in a Year!.  

There was just one problem, this isnt what I wanted.  I want $2K a month and freedom.

For a long time my good friend and I have talked about passive income, a stream of money that would keep us comfortable while giving us the freedom of time.  

I know what I need, that $2K a month is my sweet spot, my Hell Yeah!moment.  From there I want to scale it up, build more sites, make more money, but only if I can still retain my freedom.  

Ultimately thats what Im chasing, not money, not luxury, not prestige, but unadulterated freedom of time and place.

When I first looked at affiliate marketing it seemed so straightforward on the surface.  Build a site, drive traffic to a site, get cash, retire tomorrow.  Easy right?  Nope.  

The intricacies of discovering profitable niches, keyword research, developing a keyword strategy, site architecture and others still manages to trip me up.

I knew nothing of Google Algorithms, page rank, domain authority, juice links, and all the other fine print that the Make $1,000 an Hour While You Sleep! people arent telling you. This stuff takes a lot of work, front loaded though it may be.  

There are loads of things to know and implement if Im going to build a successful site and all of those things fall inline with each other and play vital roles.

Im excited to have a guiding hand in all of this, Im excited to take actionable steps towards my goals, Im excited not to have a boss other than myself.  

I’m just flat out excited that I’m on my own path.  I’m ready to go!

 [Editor’s note — Back to Doug…] Thanks, Jim! That’s really inspiring! See all the posts in the series – here.
Can you relate to Jim? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you want to work along with Jim, tell us. You are far more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.

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).

Featured or Mentioned on



The Doug Show is where I’ll talk to other marketers and experts, share success stories, talk about making the leap from corporate worker bee to entrepreneur.

Subscribe here: Apple PodcastsSpotify

Or go straight to the Website

Check out my YouTube Channel
  • Success Stories from readers like you.
  • Tutorials and How-Tos.
  • Real Life as an Entrepreneur after Corporate Life.


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


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bob

    Same boat. Trying to get to that $2000 a month goal too. The worst part about this journey is the first 6 months. I’m hoping to see more action before then. But right now, times are tough! I don’t know about the 10 hours a week for me personally, I love this stuff so much, I spend a lot of time researching, writing, educating, etc. I love it, just wish I were better at it! Good luck, Jim!

    • Hey Bob! Thanks for the comment.

      Good luck on your journey, too!

      You nailed it – the first 6 months is a test of will. Jim seems to be a knowledge absorbing machine so he is getting obsessed like you.

    • Jim

      Hey Bob! Thanks for the good luck! Yeah, I’m feeling the “First 6 Month” burn too. Just takes a while to get all the pieces together to really generate that momentum to carry you forward.

  • Hey Doug,

    Great case study! I’m very interested in checking how this turns out. I’ve been working on an e-commerce business for about 2-3 years while holding down a full time job. It’s at about $14-$20k/month in gross sales. I’m looking to quit within 3-4 months. I could do it in now but I want to get another source of income working about $4-5k (have plans to make a few new ecom sites). Amazon niche sites is also something I’ve wanted to do but with a F/T job and Ecom Site #1 – there isn’t much time. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to quit.. My plans are $3k/monthly expenses and $15-$20k/month in profit through a range of different internet busineseses.

  • Great to meet you Jim! $2000/month is a great amount to shoot for I think. It’s not so much that seems unreasonable, yet enough to really make a difference! I’m shooting for $3000/month right now (I’m about halfway there) so I can potentially move to the Philippines for a year or so with my wife and go full time.

    I still work on my niche sites, but my path is a bit different nowadays. Since I’m a Web Developer by trade, I’m working on building products to help as many other affiliate marketers find their freedom, while finding my own in the process.

    Looking forward to following along with your success – which I’m sure is just a matter of time!

    • Thanks for the comment, Dave.

      Congrats on getting to $1,500/month. That’s no small accomplishment and I know you’re building these sites to last. 🙂

    • Jim

      Hey Dave! Thanks for encouragement! Awesome news about moving toward your goal, the Philippines will be great.

      P.S. UAT looks pretty sweet!

    • Jim

      Hey Dave, thanks for reaching out! Man the Philippines would be so awesome! That’s one of the reasons I’m following this path, so that my girlfriend and I can make more time for travel. It’s a huge passion of ours, a couple summers ago we took a 8,000 mile road trip around the states and that cemented our desire to travel more.

      P.S. UAT looks really nice!

  • Jim – I hate to be the one to break it to ya. But you’re in for a rude awakening if you think you’re going to get to $2k/month by working only 10 hours per week. Especially if you’re planning on doing all of the writing and research yourself.

    $2k/month is a great and reasonable goal. But plan on working WAY more than 10 hours per week on it in the beginning. Once you get there – 10 hours per week to manage sounds about right. Good luck with everything man!

    • Ilya

      Hey Matthew,
      I think he meant the 10 hours per week as an ultimate goal instead of his current work schedule. At least that’s how I interpreted it. 🙂

      • Hey Ilya, Thanks for the comment. You are right! (though maybe it wasn’t so clear…)

    • Hey Matt, Thanks for the comment!

      Oh, you are right, especially about the writing. I believe the 10 hours a week is once the site is established.

      However, one big advantage is that Jim is going after a topic which he is an expert in. Research will be way less intense than if he was writing about some other topic.

      That said, I think if a person knew exactly what to work on and focused like a laser, they could work 10 hours a week for 6+ months and have a massive amount of work done. 6 months at 10 hours a week = ~250 hours

      You can get a lot done in 250 hours.

      Matt, feel free to disagree! 🙂 That said, when I got started, I messed up on so many things…and probably put in more than 15 hours a week.

    • Jim

      Hey Matthew-

      Man, don’t I know it. I’m putting in a lot more than that right now, between writing, getting everything setup, KW research, writing, site architecture, and writing (did I mention that?).
      The thing about working towards your passion is that even if you’re putting in 60 hrs a week it feels better than humping 40 (or even 10) for somebody else.
      Thanks for the good luck!


  • Jules

    Hey Doug, excellent post as always. I was going through some of your old old articles and found the one on PBN’s particularly interesting. I wasn’t sure if you would see my question there so I’m posting it here.

    When you find a good domain do you redirect all internal pages and posts to the homepage before creating your own content?

    • Hey Jules, Thanks! I see all the comments – so you can ask there too.

      Some people do that… and other people recreate the old pages that have high PA to take advantage of that. It tends to look more authentic too.

  • dnyandeo

    hey doug right time post for me trying hard to build niche site but not sure where to start. wish i will follow you in the journey, looking forward for the updates!

    • Jim

      The start is the hardest part! Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Tushar

    Great start.

    I can totally relate to Jim. But difference is that I have 4 years of experience in SEO and IM and I am building a very long term authority site.

    I am looking forward to hear your further moves.

    And best wishes.

    • Jim

      Hey Tushar-
      Thanks for reaching out and for the good vibes!


  • I want to wish you luck Jim and just know that your dream can and will happen. When you get to $2K a month, you only need about 4 hours a month to keep it there and grow it a little. The first 6 months are not that hardest in my opinion. In the first 3 months excitement will keep you going…months 4-9 will be an up and down set of feelings as a lot can happen and some great days and some crap ones. If you believe and stay 100% focused then you will build your own dream….others will never understand what it is you do…the proof is in the bank account

    • Jim

      Well said, I have tunnel vision for my success. It’s all I can see!

      I’ve definitely had the “strikes and gutters” kind of days but it’s so important to get these good vibes that you can fall back on during the lesser-good days (any day I’m not working for someone else is a good day 🙂 ). Thanks for taking time to comment!


  • Simi

    I am newbie and happy to read new case study.

    I have a question. Is google love micro/small niche site now a days ? One primary keyword for static Homepage and few other secondary keywords posts/pages site.


    • Hey Simi, Thanks for the comment! You should enjoy the case study.

      I can’t speak for Google, but I say skip the micro/small sites. If you are going to spend time on something, make it great.

      Plus, if you make a site small at first, you can make it bigger later. It doesn’t have to be big right away. If you just add one article per week, in 1 year you will have over 50 posts.

  • Hey,
    Love this… Almost identical to my story so far. I hated my job so incredibly much as I was pretty much pressing 4 buttons on a keyboard all day long. Almost never got to eat lunch or even leave my seat before 12 o clock (not even for bathroom breaks).
    Always did overtime and had incredibly stressful life. I decided to quit in June 2015 because they wouldn’t give me a promotion even though I was one of the most experienced people in the team.
    I got hired at a new company but they had to let me go before I even started my first day due to financial reasons.
    I worked a little on affiliate marketing since June but have been doing this full time since September 2015.
    I still struggle hard to make anything decent on a monthly basis but I did have a high in December where I made $1,200 +
    However in the new year I barely made anything so I’m getting a bit worried now and going back to basics. Hopefully I can get a $2k monthly income soon! I wake up early and start grinding daily so I put in a lot of effort just sometimes I get a bit scattered and lost. Will follow your progress closely to see where I might be going wrong 🙂
    Congrats on becoming your own boss by the way!

    • Jim

      Sounds like we should start a club! There’s nothing like the feeling of being stuck somewhere you don’t want to me and conversely there’s nothing like the feeling when you don’t have to do it anymore.
      Congrats on December! That’s awesome! I suppose it had to do with the buying season but you can attribute some of that to the work you put in too.
      Glad to hear you’ll be following along. Hopefully this will shed some light on your progress and help you get to that “Hell Yeah!” moment.
      Keep grinding man!


  • Awesome, it’s going to be fun to follow this. I’ve started my own case study/ follow along towards $3,000 as well, but trying to do everything “white hat”. The first 6 months will be brutal! Good luck Jim.

    • Jim

      Thanks man! Yeah, just pounding out content and white hat-ing things right now. Good luck on your endeavor too!

  • Interesting!
    Reading comments is like digging gold.. Love the positive energy and encouragement..

    You’re such an inspiration.

    • Jim

      Hey Anne-
      Yeah, I find it so supportive to know that there’s more folks out there trying to accomplish their own dreams too. It helps to know that you’re not way off track, haha!


  • Doug, it sure seems like you struck a nerve with this post. When Tim Ferriss wrote 4HWW he squeezed the wound that so many people were secretly hiding.

    I feel like an old fart compared to most of your readers. I had my first website in 1995. I had my first 5-figure day in 1997. I was around when SEO was stuffing keywords into Alta Vista.

    I’m living proof that guys like Jim can do it, should do it, and need to do it. I said good-bye to my last job on November 4th, 1994. Jim, if you read this, my biggest tip is STAY FOCUSED! In the past 21 years I’ve been a disaster at following one course until successful. But the good news is even if you screw up, you can’t be fired.

    As soon as you can start a local or online meet-up group to swap war stories and keep each other motivated. A word of warning…your current friends and family will tell you its too risky, too hard, too dangerous and once you get to $2K a month they’ll tell you that secretly they were cheering for you.

    Keep leading wisely, thanks for all you do Doug.


    • Jim

      Hi Dave-
      Man, it’s so encouraging to hear stories like yours. I’m trying to stay the course as best as possible while learning how personal life fits into this whole picture. I’ll just keep grinding it out until it all works out. Thanks for the comment!

  • I can relate so well to pretty much everything that has been said in this post, from the visceral reaction to authority figures to not quite believing the “spammy” way many niche-site gurus are advertising their respective methods and of course shooting for a work-life-balance that leans more towards living.
    Especially since I too have just started out (using the Ultimate Azon theme, even) and basically have a really long way to go. I hope things will work out for Jim and me both (:

  • Hey Doug. Saw your “SEO Plan for Niche Sites” earlier today and loved it! You handled the audio issue beautifully. If I were in your shoes, I would have probably freaked out.
    I, too, have a PMI certification (PgMP) and a couple others associated with process improvement. I wonder if there’s a way to integrate all that into a training or consulting business, similar to what you’ve done…
    If you have a notification list announcing the start of your next training program, I’d love to be added to it.

    Bill Livingston