How to Stay Motivated When Your New Niche Site Isn’t Earning Much (Yet)

Christy wrote this post that will keep you moving forward.

She’s making over $1,000 per month and has been for a while. Her site is under a year old and she’s worked hard!

Thanks to Christy for sharing 8 tips on keeping the eye on the ball.

At the end, I’ll link up to a couple of the other posts by Christy that have all been very popular.

When I first met Doug for a cup of coffee (well, tea for me) last fall, I was a total affiliate beginner. I wanted to pick his brain, get some advice, and figure out if this “whole niche site” thing was really for me.

I started working on my site on October 1, 2018, and it’s now almost ten months later. In that time, I chose my niche, created my brand, built the site, created a hit-list of KGR keywords, wrote dozens of blogs myself, hired freelancers on Upwork to write another 84 posts, and… waited.

As Doug likes to say, if you need money fast, get a job. Affiliate marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick strategy. It’s a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race strategy.

But, how do you stay motivated while you’re waiting (and hoping) people find your niche site — and click your affiliate links?

That’s what this article is all about.

First, Some Perspective

In preparation for this blog, I logged into my Amazon and VigLink affiliate accounts and pulled a monthly report. Here’s what I see for the month of June:

Amazon Affiliates Report (May 27 – June 26, 2019)

VigLink Affiliates Report (June 1-26, 2019)

In addition to these two sources, I received a $150 commission from a company in my niche for referring someone to their event.

That’s $921 total — and there’s still 5 days left in the month. The prospect of maybe hitting my first $1,000 month is super motivational! (Even if I don’t, it’s darn close.)

Remember, though, this is month 10. The numbers didn’t look this way for a while.

So, the real question is, how do you keep the faith when your dashboards look more like this?

Amazon Affiliates Report (October 1-31, 2018)

VigLink Affiliates Report (October 1-31, 2018)

That’s what I saw after pouring a lot of time and effort into getting my niche site off the ground and working on content for 30 days.

Talk about demotivational…

When the Get-Going Gets Tough

The vast majority of people who want to have a niche site will never even launch one. Only a small subset stick out the first 6-12 months, and it’s understandable why. (See month #1 screenshots above!)

Those of us who are in this for the long haul must find ways to stay focused, stay positive, and stay motivated even when it’s hard. Here are 7 tactics that have helped me press on:

1. Set Specific Goals First

Normally, I’m not good about doing this. When I started my marketing company 4 years ago, I had no business plan, no defined goals, and no idea where it would lead. That’s OK for a business where you can proactively bring in new business and see immediate results.

That’s simply not the case for niche sites.

Much of your early months and years revolve around waiting. You wait for Google to rank your content. You wait for people to follow you on social media. You wait for 30-90 days between affiliate program payouts.

One of the best things I did early on was to set 5 financial milestones:

Phase One: $500/month after taxes
Phase Two: $2,000/month after taxes
Phase Three: $5,000/month after taxes
Phase Four: $7,500/month after taxes
Phase Five: $10,000/month after taxes

Beside each one, I put what it represented. For example, one of them says “Pays my monthly mortgage” next to it. Another says “Replaces my full-time income.”

When the tough times come (e.g. low monthly earnings, keyword isn’t ranking well), I revisit my goals and think about how far I’ve already come. After all, back in October 2018, I wasn’t making squat!

2. Think Small (Keywords)

When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to target the “big whales” in an ocean of keywords. ***Mistake***

Doug’s KGR approach to keyword research gives you more than a real shot at ranking — it gives you HOPE. How? Because by targeting low-traffic keywords with little competition, you’ll start seeing results faster. For example:

“Best SUV” has 60K+ searches per month. Realistically, you’ll never make it to page one. Not even close. Writing content for this keyword is a waste of time.

On the other hand, “Best SUV for dogs” gets 590 searches per month and has a few other niche sites on page one. If you whip up quality content for this term, you’ve got a great shot at ranking really well.

Results are the most motivational way to keep your eyes on the prize. When I made my first Amazon sale, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Not only did it prove I had hooked up everything correctly, but it also proved my content could convert to sales.

After that, it’s just a matter of providing even more quality KGR content and waiting for Google to serve up your site to the masses.

3. Trust the Process

One of the best ways to suck your energy tank dry? Waste time reinventing the wheel every step of the way.

Affiliate experts like Doug have created a ton of resources designed to keep you from making mistakes, losing money, and wasting time.

Use them!

Read the blogs, take a few online courses, watch the YouTube channels.

I avoided countless “dumb mistakes” by simply following Doug’s course step by step. Starting with his templates for things like hiring writers on Upwork and calculating KGRs also saved me a lot of time and headaches.

You can always modify tools to suit your specific needs and preferences (I did), but using an existing process as your guide is a whole lot faster than starting from scratch.

Plus, the process works! My June income reports are proof of that.

Word to the wise: Pick 1-2 “gurus” that you’re going to follow, and stick with their process and strategy for the first 18-24 months. If you bounce around trying bits and pieces from different experts, it’s a one-way road to paralysis.

4. Fail As Fast As You Can

Even though it’s nestled into the middle of my list, this one is my favorite. I said it during my first meeting with Doug, and it’s still in the back of my mind every time I make a decision.

If my site is going to fail, I’m going to fail as fast as humanly possible. Here’s what I mean…

Google typically takes at least 6-10 months to fully digest and rank new content. That’s a long time to sit around waiting to see if your latest blog is going to succeed.

If I wrote everything myself, for example, I’d publish a MAX of 2 blogs per week. (My posts are long and detailed, so writing them takes a while. I’m also a perfectionist!)

That means publishing 100 posts would take at least 50 weeks. That’s nearly a year!

Every one of those posts takes 6-10 months to fully rank. So, the first two posts might be “baked” by the 50-week mark. But, your last two posts are still going to be 6-10 months out. UGH. That would take forever!

Instead, I wanted to get a meaningful amount of quality content up on my site ASAP. I wanted as much content as possible to be as old as possible by the time my site reaches one year old.

I was willing to invest several thousand dollars in freelance ghostwriters to reach 100 posts quicker. (I still wrote about a third myself.)

Now, ten months in, I’m sitting comfortably at 126 blog posts. That’s enough to draw in enough traffic to make some money, generate useful reports, and see a few trends that will influence the next phase of my content strategy.

5. Make Your Time Count

Few things are as frustrating as spending hours on something you know isn’t really getting you anywhere. But, we all do it.

I wrote an entire blog about niche site time wasters. Check it out — and avoid my mistakes.

6. Stop Checking Your Income

Wait, didn’t I say before that seeing early results were motivational? Yes, but checking your income dashboard every few hours is not.

I set a calendar reminder twice per month to check earnings. It’s a lot more fun seeing your income jump from $0 to $400 in two weeks than it is to see the needle move from $20 to $26 in two days.

One of my proudest moments was realizing I’d only published 2 blogs last month — yet the site still grew and made $500+ in commissions. It was a tough month because I lost my beloved dog, and my other business was nuts.

Seeing the site continue to function (and grow) with hardly any attention made me really hopeful. I’m building something of value that can run without me when I need it to.

7. Have Your Kind of Fun

Chugging through your list of articles isn’t always fun. Frankly, it’s unfun most of the time. Most of us have other jobs and life commitments, and blogging about the best kites for kids or organic shorts for women doesn’t sound all that great at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday.

It’s important to carve out time every month for niche site tasks you do find enjoyable — even if they’re not the most strategic or income-producing ones on your to-do list.

For me, that means periodically doing creative projects or campaigns on my site. One month, I decided to do a fun guest writing initiative with college kids.

Reading their submissions, seeing their pictures, and producing professional blog content they could share was highly rewarding.

It reinvigorated my passion for the site after a long content haul the month before.

Another time, I decided to create a media library that showcased various vloggers, bloggers, and other influencers within my niche.

Would my time have been better spent cranking out another 4 KGR blogs instead? Strictly by the numbers, maybe. But, these fun projects filled my creative funnel while increasing my site authority, social media presence, and visitor time on the site.

Win-win!

8. (Bonus) Refuse to Quit

Remember all those scary stats about the percentage of small businesses that fail within the first year? Screw that. I started one anyway, and I made it work.

I went into my niche site with the same attitude. Most people will quit. I won’t be one of them.

I’ve done my research. I’ve picked my gurus. I’ve put in the work.

Before I ever started the site, I told myself I refused to quit.

Period.

You’re Not Alone

Working on an affiliate site isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t fast. It can be a lonely business, but you’re not alone. We all have tough days, missed milestones, and plenty of doubt.

All of us.

So, keep the faith. You’ve got this!

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12 comments… add one
  • Marty McLeod

    Some great ideas here, Doug & Christy! There are so many I’ve experienced myself (and recommend to others, too) that I can’t highlight them all. Ha ha.

    Thanks for the helpful information & sharing your lessons learned!

    Reply
  • Israel Chima

    This is post is right on target. I will never quit. Though it has not been easy. post like this makes me feel it is easy and workable

    Reply
  • DAVID NYORO

    Thank for sharing this article. I feel much more consoled

    Reply
  • Jo

    Hi Doug and Christy. I am kind of at the start of the blogging journey (lots of efforts and no results so far!) so thanks for all the info and encouragement you put out there.
    I was interested in the point that Google can take 6-10months to ‘fully digest and rank new content’.
    I can see that this is true – although some of my content ranks quite quickly for main keywords (I generally look for KGR keywords), I still see worse posts from low authority blogs ranking for dozens of keywords with featured snippets etc. The key advantage the competing page seems to have is age.
    Are you aware of any research into the point about the benefit of age? What is the logic from Google’s point of view do you think? Why rank a page purely because it is old over a new post?
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Jo

    Reply
  • Edward

    Amazing post, thanks for taking the time out to write this one.

    Reply
  • Eben

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    But I can’t stop checking my earnings every few hours.

    Help!

    Reply
  • Zebon Hasan

    Great post, but if you shared your link building strategy I think It’ll more helpful.

    Reply
  • Agnes

    I agree with Christy that the affiliate marketing journey is not a get rich quick scheme. It requires a lot of hard work and I am saying this from experience. Your tips are helpful especially to those who are starting out, and those who are struggling and feeling like giving up. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • Zachary Strebeck

    Great post! I’ve been trying to offload the “not so fun” stuff to others (backlink outreach, content writing, drafting in Wordpress), while keeping the more interesting stuff (optimizing a post, making the content more readable) to myself. Hopefully this translates into getting more earnings and less stress about lack thereof.

    Reply
  • Luis

    Great post, thanks for sharing, i have just started my first niche site just a couple of months ago and i was getting disheartened because of the lack of traffic, this does give me some hope and drive to keep going.

    Thanks!!

    Reply
  • Igor Lebich

    They say only learn from the best, but it’s not always true. Sometimes it’s very valuable to move away from the people who are making $10k+ and listen to people who made it just recently like Marty or Christy. This stuff is more down to earth.

    Reply
  • Peter Mark

    Ohh wow… 🙂

    What a stunning post to get motivated for our blog on that condition When Blog isn’t earning, Most of the peoples try blogging for only money purpose and some take blogging for a serious purpose but this post means a lot to understand & get motivated when Blog isn’t earning.

    Reply

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