The Niche Website Challenge: A Slight Change…

A Slight ChangeA Slight Change…

It has been quite a while since I posted an update to my niche website challenge but I assure you it is not through lack of interest. I have continued to create content for my website on a regular basis but there is something that has been eating away at me. In my previous post, I revealed the URL of my new website - towards the end of this post I had already expressed a level of concern about the domain name being too “spammy” and somewhat limiting to the nature of my project. I am now going to promote my original concern in to a full blown mistake and admit that I got things dead wrong…

Look at the bigger picture

It is not uncommon to come across Internet Marketers who have fallen out of love with their projects but it is important to recognise this early on and take the necessary action. You have a blank canvas when you create a website and often what is in your head will become distorted once delivered in to reality. The goal is to create a website that you enjoy working on and not something that feels like a chore – this way it will be easier to keep coming back to add content / make better!

When I decided on the subject matter for my niche challenge, I was largely influenced by my interest in Graphic Design. Somewhere in the back of my mind there were plans for a successful Design blog but for some reason I decided to focus solely on Graphics Tablets. It is surprising how quickly the Internet Marketing bug can take over and cloud your judgement. Before I realised it, I had registered a domain name and came up with a website which was never ever going to be anything more than a Graphics Tablet Review website.

In 1995 Jeff Bezos went live with Amazon.com. The site was originally used as an online book store but has since become the biggest online retailer in the world. If Jeff Bezos had of used my train of thought he would have registered BestBookStore.com and placed massive limitations on his business. I am not suggesting that my project is going to be as big as Amazon but removing the constraints I had placed on it gives it more of a fighting chance…Many successful Internet Marketers talk about building a brand and I think I am starting to understand what they mean.

Another reason why I have decided to make a change is based on career choice. I recently started making money through a website called Design Crowd – the idea is that people submit a project to the site and an allocated budget. Designers from all over the world submit their designs and the selected winner is awarded the fee. Although this is not the most sustainable business model you will ever read about, I do think it is a good way to get some exposure to design and start building your client portfolio. Anyway I submitted a few designs and actually won a $200 project – this got me thinking and the thought of a life where I could carry out a couple of logo designs each week and earn decent money was very appealing. The fact that my design won the project made me feel like a real designer so I want to see how far I can take it. 

The Redesign

So I have decided to rebrand my original website and take the scope of the site in a slightly different direction. I will still be trying to make affiliate sales from design related products but that will only be a small part of the overall project. The aim is to create a Design website which will also act as my online portfolio – I am starting to look more in to the world of paid Graphic design and believe that this could be a great opportunity to combine work with enjoyment.

Creative PSD

My new website is called Creative PSD and is going to be my graphic design journal as I try and carve out a new career in the world of design. My intentions are to showcase my latest designs and portfolio pieces as well as produce detailed video tutorials within software such as Photoshop, illustrator and Flash etc. – this is something that I really enjoy doing and hopefully can put it to good use on my new site.

I am still very much in the content creation stage at present but will be posting statistics and figures in the near future. I am currently planning a major outreach once I am happy with the foundation information on my site. This is going to be a huge part of my marketing strategy and something which I plan to cover in great detail inside a future post…

Getting Back On Track

To a certain extent, I do feel like the wheels had come off a little bit for this project but making this change has most certainly had a positive effect on me. I never lost interest in the graphics tablet website but did get the feeling that it was leading me down a blind alley. My new website will allow me to venture in to wider markets and create more opportunities in the future.

Although I have admitted to making a mistake in this challenge I also feel like I have made great progress. The ability to learn from mistakes is an essential part of internet marketing and something you should not feel ashamed to admit to. One of my favourite quotes is from the film National Treasure and it fits quite well here…

You know, Thomas Edison tried and failed nearly 2,000 times to develop the carbonized cotton-thread filament for the incandescent light bulb. And when asked about it, he said “I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb

With this in mind I will continue on my challenge safe in the knowledge that a website just for Graphics Tablets is not something I will try again…

 

 

The Niche Website Challenge: My Domain Revealed

Niche Website Domain RevealedMy Domain Revealed

In the last post of my Niche Site challenge, I described some of the methods I use when selecting the subject matter for my projects.

I also went on to outline my criteria for this challenge. The topic has got to be:

  • Something I enjoy
  • Something I know about
  • Something that is a part of my regular routine
  • Something that is product rich and has solid revenue opportunities

From this criteria, I was able to narrow things down to 3 potential areas

  1. Playing Golf
  2. Graphic Design
  3. Personal Fitness

Before taking these 3 areas in to the keyword research stage, I started to think about the content creation process. I am going to have to create a lot of content if there is to be no outsourcing whatsoever. The content has got to be high value and take advantage of various forms of web content. Modern forms of web content are not restricted to, but can include:

  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Product Reviews
  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Podcasting (in the future maybe)

With this in mind, I decided that Graphic Design was the best way for me to go. I love playing golf and I love going to the gym but it will be a lot easier for me to create content / media which relates to the graphic design industry. Also, If I am heading for authority golf is probably not the best option as I am not that good at it :(

So, I decided that my subject matter was going to be Graphic Design. It ticks all of my boxes and it is something that excites me. As one final step before entering in to keyword research, I decided to just mind map a few ideas on the direction I could take this project in

Graphic Design Ideas

Having completed this diagram, there were a few things that really stood out to me.

  • I really liked the idea of creating video tutorials. I am pretty good in Photoshop & illustrator so there may be something there.
  • I like the idea of creating product reviews, if the product is right. The thing which springs to mind is Graphics Tablets – I actually own a few of these already so could easily create detailed reviews. I know a lot about their operation and prices range from £30 – £2000… Interesting :)
  • I want to get more involved in Digital Art. It is something that I am very interested in and would like to take it further

Keyword Research Time…

I have now got a few ideas in my head about the direction I want to take my site in. This is all well and good but if there is no demand or web traffic for these ideas, it is pointless.

It is a good idea to have a rough idea of the kind of things you want to look for when conducting keyword research. Number of Exact match local searches, Advertiser competition and Cost per Click (CPC) value are all things that you should take in to consideration. This is the point where I should make the following points:

  • 3,000 minimum Exact local searches
  • £1 minimum CPC value…but I am not going to

The truth is, that I am happy with as little as 300 local searches per month as the basis for a single article / blog post. This may prove to be a bad decision but it is something that I am going to stick with for now.

In the following video, I am carrying out some basic keyword research within WebCEO and the Google Keyword tool to see if there is any legs in my initial idea. Something I want to try out with this website is to try and avoid reliance on a single or primary keyword – not sure how this will pan out but it is something I want to try.

For the record, my initial idea is to create a website which provides detailed reviews of Graphics Tablets and Graphic Design Tutorials

In the video, I identify a few areas which I believe to be very promising and after carrying out further research and some competitor analysis I have decided to proceed with this idea…I will be be dedicating an entire post to competitor analysis in the near future as it is something I regard with high importance.

The key thing I want to highlight is that I am 100% behind the idea of a Graphics Tablet Review Website. In the past I have found good keywords to target but dreaded the content creation process – things are totally different now and I know I am going to enjoy this

My New Website

Website Ideas

The name and URL of my new website is http://www.bestgraphicstablets.com - The diagram above shows a few of the ideas I already for the content of the website.

While I have chosen Best Graphics Tablets as my domain name, I want you to take this with  pinch of salt. The number of exact local searches for this term is nothing special but I am not just trying to optimise for this key phrase – it is one of many which I will be targeting as I launch my assault up on the Graphics Tablets industry. The end goal is to become an authority in this field so I am playing the long game, for now I just needed a name.

If I am honest, I think I have made a bit of a mistake here but I suppose time will tell. In a bit of a trade off between Exact Match Domains, Partial Match Domains and eagerness to get things moving; I have gone for a domain name which I now believe to be a bit ‘spammy’. Either way, I have made this decision now and will stick by it…As Thomas Edison said after trying 2000 different ways to make an incandescent light bulb – “I did not fail, I found 2000 ways not to make a light bulb (I watched National Treasure last night and thought that line was pretty cool)

I plan to go in to more detail over the architecture of the site but for now, the important things are:

  • Platform – WordPress (for more information on installing wordpress on 1&1, check out my video
  • Theme – Blogolife (free theme & the same as The SEO Experiment)
  • Hosting – 1&1 (I already have a package but pricing can start off as low as £2.49 per month)
  • Domain Registration – 1&1 (£0.99 – special offer for first year)
  • Monetisation strategy – Google AdSense & Amazon Affiliate *

* Please note that this may be subject to change. I am fully aware of the risks by placing my AdSense account on a publicly documented website – I will be closely monitoring things and may withdraw it I have to. I sincerely urge any reader of The SEO Experiment not to click on my Ads – I appreciate the gesture but it is not how I want it to work…

I have already made a start with the content creation (main reason why I have taken so long to provide an update on the challenge) and will be sharing my strategies in greater detail over the coming weeks.

That is pretty much it for now and as you can imagine, there is a lot to do…I am very excited to get things up and running so just want to press on with the site’s progression.

Please feel free to make any comments on the information provided within this post. Everything I do is part of a huge learning curve so would be happy to hear any feedback, good or bad.

Thanks for reading and Take care!

If you want to follow my niche website challenge then please subscribe to my newsletter – alternatively, follow me on Twitter @Paul_Hill_SEO

 

The Niche Website Challenge: Choosing Your Niche

niche website challenge choosing your nicheChoosing a Niche

As part of my Niche Website Challenge, I am going to be building a website centered on a specific topic and trying to make money as it establishes itself as an authority.

Right up there with Keyword research and creating quality content, choosing the subject matter for your niche website is one of the most important steps of the overall process. The way I am going to approach this challenge means that I will be spending a great deal of time researching this subject and creating huge amounts of quality content for it – so the topic has got to be right! There are many different ways to come up with niche website ideas and throughout the remainder of this post I am going to share with you some of the different methods I have used in the past to create niche websites and the one which I will be using for my own Niche Website Challenge.

As I spend more and more time creating niche websites, I find myself constantly thinking of ways to create online revenue streams and overwhelmed with numerous ideas for my next big project. I am sure that the majority of people reading this post will suffer from the same curse and regularly find them self starting new ventures off the back of a “good idea”.

At the current time of writing this post, I have over 25 registered domain names sitting on my hosting package doing absolutely nothing. That basically means I have had 25 brilliant ideas which by the morning, did not seem that brilliant…One in particular was when I registered www.pkhmusic.co.uk after scanning amazon for potential products to promote – the idea was to create a website which provided affiliate links to musical instruments within detailed product reviews. The next day I was all set to start developing the website when it dawned on me that I knew nothing about musical instruments and really did not want to start learning…Project over!

Over the last year I have used several different methods to decide on subjects for my niche websites. Hearing conversations at work, reading something online or seeing something in the high street have all provided ideas for me to take in to a new online venture. For my Niche Website Challenge, I am going to apply a bit more thought to this decision and try to give myself the best possible chance of succeeding. The following 2 methods have proved them self to be extremely effective and I want to explore them in a bit more detail…

  • The Amazon Method - Internet Giants Amazon operates one of the world’s largest affiliate programs. Amazon Associates is free to join and allows you to create affiliate products to any item shipped by Amazon. Commission on the Amazon program starts off at 5% and rises up to 9% as you sell more items. Some people love the program and others have issues with low commission rates and the commission cap (currently £7 in the UK). Love it or hate it, Amazon provides an easy delivery mechanism for affiliate links which you can effortlessly integrate in to a website to start making some money. I have created the following video to explain how you can use Amazon to help decide on the subject of your niche website if you ever find yourself in need of inspiration. The goal of this method is to identify some potential topics / subjects which you can take forward in to the keyword research process. 

The Amazon Method is extremely effective and will help you to quickly identify potential subjects for your niche website; it is also very good to use as a base to start your keyword research. One thing I will say from my own experience is that constantly using this method to identify target products almost railroaded me in to reducing the quality of my sites. I found myself wanting to move on to the next project without applying the right amount of time and effort to the current project – with all the best intentions in the world, it is very easy to lose focus and get distracted in the IM industry and requires a great deal of discipline in order to manage your own time effectively. Hopefully you are a lot better at this than me because I always find myself getting sidetracked :( …for this reason, I have suspended all of my other projects while I work on my Niche Website Challenge.

  • Striking a Chord – This next method aims to create personal associations with the subject matter of your website. The process starts of with a brainstorming session to find out:
  1. Things that you know about - This will make the content creation process easier and reduce the amount of time spent carrying out research.
  2. Things you would like to do - Anything that you would like to do in your lifetime. Climb Everest, tightrope across the grand canyon or simply get in shape. These subjects make great examples of websites which build huge followings as you progress on your journey.
  3. Things you enjoy doing – Possibly the most important one (for me at least) – if I do not enjoy doing something, it becomes boring very quickly. An authority site will take a lot of time and effort to establish itself on the Internet. If I want this site to be successful, it has got to excite me!
  4. Things you do on a regular basis – I have a full time job and 2 young children so have very little spare time. I already spend up to 6 hours per night (after work) working on SEO / IM projects. If I can incorporate something which I already do on a regular basis in to this project it will be a huge time saver for me.

I would suggest that you carry out this exercise without thinking about making money, the whole point is to find something which is personal to you so it s best not to have your judgment clouded by income. Once you have completed the exercise, the idea is that one or more subjects will appear under multiple categories, indicating that it may be a good subject to base your site around. If you can find a subject which:

  1. You enjoy talking about
  2. Know quite a lot about already
  3. Is part of your daily routine

Then you might be on to something…carry out some basic keyword research and think about whether or not it could be transformed in to a monetised website. Off the top of my head, I would say that there are a couple of subjects which tick all of these boxes for me and they are…Going to the Gym and Graphic Design – each of which I would enjoy creating a website around and may feature in my Niche Website Challenge…

I have created another video so that you can see me carry out this exercise. As with the Amazon method, the goal is to find potential subjects (that are personal to you) that can be taken in to the keyword research process.

The Criteria for My Niche Website Challenge

I have been giving this decision some serious thought over the last week or 2 as it is the one which will have the most impact on my challenge going forward. Deciding on the topic of my niche site is going to shape the future of the website and the future of this challenge…

For this reason I have decided that the subject of my website will have to meet the following criteria, If I cannot find something that fits the picture, I will just keep trying until I do, it is that important to me! – please note that I am only focusing on the subject matter at this point in time; volume of local search, CPC values and competitor analysis will all come at a later date. It’s just the way I do it :)

  • I have got to enjoy the subject I choose – I want to quit work and make money on the Internet full time…If I wanted to spend countless hours working on projects which do not really engage my full attention, I would  just carry on with my day job. Being able to enjoy this project is crucial to me – the amount of people who grow to hate their own website staggers me, you have the ability to choose any subject in the world for this so why pick one that you do not enjoy (I imagine the most common answer is to make money but you still have a choice).
  • I have got to have some prior knowledge - I am fully prepared to put in the required amount of work to make this succeed but if I can get ahead of the game in any way, I will take it…knowing about my niche will give me a huge advantage and save me a lot of time in the early stages of the project.
  • I do not want to make any drastic life changes – While I would love to take a year out to go Scuba Diving at some of the worlds premier locations and make a blog about it, I will not be doing it anytime soon. I have a full time job and a young family so time is already stretched out as it is. If I can incorporate a regular activity in to this project it will make things a whole lot easier.
  • There has got to be a good revenue opportunity - Up until now I have not really spoken about money and to some extent have intentionally avoided the issue. Having said that, the point of the challenge is to make money so it has got to creep up at some point. It is all well and good me suggesting these methods for you to arrive at the perfect niche and find that there is very little in the way of monetisation opportunity. The area I want to focus my site upon needs to have strong revenue opportunities. If I choose Amazon as my primary monetisation strategy, there needs to be lost of products which tick the right boxes. (Although Amazon say 5% – 9% commission, there is a cap at £7 per sale in the UK. I found this out when I got sales commission from a £1000 watch – only £7 for that when it should have been closer to £60. Therefore I will try and limit my products to no more than £200, this way I never really feel the pinch from the sales cap).

The Next Step

Before deciding on my niche subject and registering a domain name, I want to build up a list of potential subjects which I can take in to the keyword research process – I will be creating a post on Keyword research in the near future and will show you how I go about it. I will also be revealing the exact subject matter for my challenge!

If you are conducting your own niche site challenge to coincide with some of the more popular blogs across the Internet (Pat Flynn’s NSD 2.0 or Spencer Haws challenge etc.) – please feel free to get in touch and say Hi, I would love to hear how you are getting on). Also, to receive latest updates from The SEO Experiment Niche Website Challenge, Subscribe to my newsletter  or follow me on Twitter @Paul_Hill_SEO

You can also check out the Niche Website Challenge HQ for all related posts about the challenge

Thank You for taking the time to read this post and Take Care!

 

The Niche Website Challenge: Introduction

Niche Website Challenge IntroductionMy Niche Website Challenge: Introduction

I first started out on my Internet Marketing journey in August 2011 when I created my very first monetised website. The website was a local fitness directory and made money through Google AdSense. Now, I will be the first to admit that as far as first attempts go, this was a terrible website which was laced with some seriously basic errors…Determined to make this website successful, I spent the next 18 months learning about SEO and Internet Marketing from some of the Internet’s finest (Pat Flynn and Spencer Haws to name but a few) it took a lot of time, hard work and dedication to start seeing results but I finally got my first payout from Google AdSense (£69.20) many months later and it felt great!

Fast forward several months and I feel I have made huge leaps forward in Internet Marketing, I am still in full time employment but can now see how I may be able to carve out a career in Internet Marketing and start living life on my terms.

The SEO Experiment has been running for over a year now and I have seen some extremely positive results with the niche sites I have built over the last 12 months but the internet is changing…In 2012, Google made some pretty high impact changes to their algorithms and left many Internet Marketers in need of a serious strategy rethink. From a personal perspective, I had several niche sites lose up to 75% of its traffic within just a few days. Once I had dissected the analytics and dusted off my tarnished pride, I realised that the sites I was creating were simply not good enough! - I was failing to provide value to my readers and I was failing to create great content. The following diagram shows the methods I was using to create content and create backlinks for my niche websites:

How I used to build Niche Websites

niche-website-challenge-backlinking-strategy

The diagram above is a pretty basic representation of the system I was using to create content and backlinks to my niche sites. The system worked for a brief period but has now since proved to be somewhat outdated. If I take a step back from my process I am able to make the following observations and ultimately, reasons for failure:

  • The system is completely link driven to the point where there is no confidence in the quality of the content.
  • Links were used in an attempt to game the system.
  • Competitor analysis was minimal and went along the lines of – “I want more links than you…”
  • Keyword research was minimal to absent. I was happy to keep feeding the system with poor content and hoping that Google would welcome me with open arms.
  • I hate to admit it but a lot of my content was outsourced to the cheapest source possible. This strategy provides value to no one.

One thing that I have learned from Internet Marketing is that there is no room for rose tinted goggles, you have got to be prepared to look at your work and be prepared to criticise yourself. I can see that my original methodology was created in an attempt to fool search engines…what I should have been doing, is focusing on reader value and quality content

How I want to build my new Niche Website

When I first started building monetised websites, I had a simple mentality…If I had 1 website which earned me £1 per day, I would £356 per year. If I had 100 of these websites, I would earn…and I’m sure you can see where this is going. As Google continues to clean up the internet – and rightly so, it is becoming harder for low quality sites to make money; of course there is still an opportunity to do so but it is getting harder and keyword research (which I will cover in greater detail in a future post) is becoming even more important in this process.

My new train of thought is to begin creating authority websites which can become a beacon for my chosen subject matter. No matter what the subject of the site is, when people think about it, I want them to know that my site is the only place to be and a place where they can spend hours reading and researching my quality content - Earn while they learn!

In order for this to happen, there has got to be an enormous amount of time and effort spent creating excellent content which stands out from the crowd. The following diagram outlines the process I will be using to populate my site and build links to it:

niche-website-challenge-new-backlinking-strategy

As you can see, there has been a huge shift away from link creation and more of an emphasis placed on content creation. Sure there is still an element of link building but it will be more controlled and whenever possible, the links will be self controlled and originate from contextually relevant sites - Once again, I plan to write out a more detailed post purely dedicated to link building for this project in the near future.

The goal of this process is to produce useful, high quality content which is searched for on a regular basis – it sounds stupid saying this but there are lots of people out there (myself included at times) that create fantastic resources which are hidden from the world because of poor keyword research.

Why is my Niche Website challenge any different?

I mentioned earlier that I have been an enthusiastic follower of several Internet Marketers and their public niche projects. Even as I write this, Spencer Haws has a niche project in full flow and Pat Flynn is set shortly to begin his Niche Site Duel , NSD 2.0 – something which I am extremely excited to see in operation…

You are quite within your rights to ask, “Why should I listen to you when there are more successful people doing this” and you are dead right…they are better at this than me and have probably forgotten more than I know about Internet Marketing. So before you rush off to their sites, and by the way…I strongly suggest that you do because they are both extremely talented marketers and you will learn a lot (Spencer’s Challenge / Pat’s Challenge if you are interested…) I just want to make a few comments about how my niche website challenge differs from some of the more popular ones:

  • All content on my project will be created be me – Outsourcing content creation is a very time effective strategy but will not be used on this project. I remember when I used to watch art programs (for those in the UK, I am talking about Art Attack) when I was younger…I would follow along with the project to the point where the presenter would say, “so now we need some PVA glue” and it was game over – I never had any PVA glue so I stopped following along. This is the same feeling I get when following someone’s advice and they start talking about outsourcing. I want to prove that I can do this on my own – sure it will take longer but I am in no rush to make money…if I was then I would not be doing this :)
  • I do not have a huge following – When it comes to Internet Marketing, I am a nobody and I accept that. I will have to prove myself in order to change this but everyone has got to start from somewhere. One advantage I feel that this gives me is that all of my results will be authentic. If I fail, it’s on me…but equally, if I succeed, that’s all me too.
  • All good things comes to those who wait – I am entering this project safe in the knowledge that it is not going to be an overnight success. It will take months and hopefully years if it all goes to plan. I am not going to rush promotion or force the issue to get results ahead of schedule.
  • I will not hide a thing - The aim of this project is to demonstrate how to carry out this process from beginning to end. I will not even build a link to my site without documenting it on The SEO Experiment

The Next Step of the Niche Website Challenge

Over the next few days I will be carrying out some keyword research along with a method I use to determine the subject matter of my niche website challenge. I strongly believe that this decision is the most important step of the entire process when it comes to longevity within niche sites.

I am extremely excited about this project and hope that I can share my success with you along the way, Thank You for taking the time to read this post and I will be in touch soon!

Check out my next post in the Niche Website Challenge where I will be looking at the methods I use when Choosing a Niche

 

The Niche Website Challenge

niche website challengeAround about the time I first got in to Internet Marketing, there were some extremely cool things taking place which would have a huge effect on the future of niche websites and ultimately the next year of my life.

The most significant event for me was that Pat Flynn was just getting his Niche Site Duel under way along with Tyrone Shum. Now to say say that these guys are a big deal is an understatement; when it comes to Internet Marketing, they are like “Ron Burgundy big deal” and I do not say that lightly…Both Pat and Tyrone have built extremely successful careers making money online and if I am honest, went a long way to convincing me that online income was not just a pipe dream. For many months I followed the progress of the Niche Site Duel reading every piece of information I could get my hands on and learning the basics of website monetisation.

Fast forward many months and I am still an avid listener of Pat Flynn’s SPI podcasts along with many other big names within the Internet Marketing arena such as Spencer Haws to name but one.

My Niche Website Challenge

To get to the point of this post is that I am starting a Niche Website Challenge which coincides with new challenges from both Spencer Haws and Pat Flynn. The truth of the matter is that since the first Niche Site Duel back in August 2010, a lot has changed on the Internet and the world of search is a very different place. Changes to Google algorithms have sent tremors through the Internet Marketing industry with Panda and Penguin updates reducing people’s online income by up to 95%.

Some of the tactics employed in 2010 to rank a site at the top of Google will not work today and many people have learnt this lesson the hard way. What I am going to do is to carry out my own challenge along side some of these IM moguls to see how easy it is to take a website from zero hero. While I have carried out experiments like this in the past, I am going to be dedicating all of my time and effort in to this project in order to make it succeed. If there is one thing I have been guilty of in the past, is spreading myself across too many different projects all at once but I hope to correct that with this project.

As with my other project, I will be documenting this entire process on The SEO Experiment for you to see its progression.

Niche Website Challenge HQ

Be sure to check back regularly at the for latest news and updates. Also, Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for bonus material.

Look out for my next post where I will be looking in to keyword research and starting to draw up ideas for my Niche Website Challenge.