A year ago, I got burnt out on Do You Even Blog and decided to start other projects.
So–I started a niche site (aka “content site” aka “blog”).
And since I haven’t shared an income report for DYEB in 3+ years–I figured the 1-year anniversary of my niche site project deserves a little update!
Let’s dive in 😉
I started a niche site with 3 things in mind:
- Get a break from DYEB
- Build a $1,000/month passive income asset
- Prove to myself (and others) that I can DO what I TEACH
This was a part-time project, and I never meant for it to be my “main thing.”
As somebody who likes to do ALL THE THINGS–I decided to launch a blog AND an accompanying YouTube channel (I’m good at YouTube, or at least the making videos part).
I chose mediums that sounded fun (important) and complemented my skill set (which I’m keenly aware of at this point).
The Blog Strategy:
- Conduct thoughtful keyword research & site structure planning
- Produce absurdly good & original content
That’s it. No backlink outreach. No social media (other than the YT channel), etc.
The YouTube strategy:
- Figure out the types of videos I can make quickly & easily–that also result in VIEWS & subscriber counts
- Leverage views for ad revenue
- Leverage subscriber count for sponsorships and partnerships
- Experiment with using the YT channel to increase blog SEO
If you’d like to know what prompted me to start the niche site–it was a SLLLLLOOOOW build-up of frustration with Do You Even Blog.
I have struggled for Y E A R S trying to grow this damn website, and I was constantly wondering “am I actually good enough?”
If I’m trying to HELP folks like you with online marketing–shouldn’t I be somewhat competent with this stuff?
I ranted more about that here:
In order to prove to MYSELF that I’m worthy (I know–sounds stupid, but it’s the truth), starting a side project was the very first thing that came to mind.
I’ve started 50+ blogs & online businesses since 2009 before “focusing” on Do You Even Blog exclusively in mid-2017…
But it was time to go back into the jungle.💪
I did a few things that very same week that I recorded the video above:
- I choose a niche before doing ANY research (based on an existing hobby of mine. I figured that was probably wise to start with)
- I bought the Authority Hackers TASS program (which is SO good. Maybe I’ll do a review sometime).
- I grabbed the domain name and installed WordPress and my custom Elementor Niche Site theme.
- I set up the YouTube channel
And after 2 weeks of additional set-up, planning (from the TASS program), etc, I put out this video with more details.
The site “officially” launched on October 1, 2021.
But that was a year ago?? What happened?????????
Traffic, Revenue, & Other Stats
Here’s a quick summary of year 1👇
|Pageviews||117,419||40k in the last month|
|Revenue||$3,492||$1k in the last month|
|Expenses||$1,993||$800 was a failed agency experiment, see below|
|Total Articles on Site||72||Only 5 posts in first 3 months. 31 posts in the last 3 months|
|Total Words (Approx)||132,031||Probably more, but this is what WordPress thinks|
|Total Videos||62||Includes ~10 #shorts|
|Total YouTube Subscribers||2,142|
|Total Email Subscribers||1,339|
|# of Times I’ve emailed my list||0||Whoops >_<|
Here’s a monthly breakdown:
Time / Hours Worked Breakdown
But what about how much time I spent on this?
Below is my best guestimate on how much time I spent on this project:
|Quarter||Posts Published||Time worked|
|First 3 months (Oct-Dec)||5||MAYBE 2 hours a week. Site was up in less than a day, only wrote 5 posts in this time|
|Second 3 months (Jan-Mar)||12||7-10 hours a week. This is when I decided to ramp up. The posts were longer & more involved–and I was building up my systems during this phase!|
|Third 3 months (Apr-Jun)||21||7-10 hours a week. Includes many “brand swapping” posts and other highly-templatized content|
|Last 3 months (Jul-Sep)||31||5-7 hours a week. Includes a TON of templatized content that I can just crank out now.|
This is what I’m most proud of.
This was a fun side project through and through, and I’m proud that I hit my goals while not spending 20+ hours a week on this.
- YouTube Ads: $376
- Blog Ads (enabled in Mid-September, so only 1.5 weeks worth of earnings here): $217
- Affiliate Revenue: $2,896 (95% of that from Amazon)
All in all, I’m super happy with this site making money already, and can’t wait to see how the blog ads (Ezoic) ramp up.
Affiliate Income: Blog vs YouTube: The first 6 months of aff income was 100% YouTube–but the rest of the gains are due to the website (views on YouTube have roughly remained steady in this time).
Revenue Takeaway: I technically hit my goal of building a $1,000/mo asset, but I’m also slightly worried about scaling much more than $2-4k in the next year.
More on that below.
- Hosting (Cloudways, here’s my review): $117
- SEO Tools (Ahrefs at first, then SERanking): $622
- MorningFa.me (YouTube tool): $100
- Content Agency (one-time package): $800
Cloudways hosting is LEGIT the best ever.
As far as SEO tools go–I probably could’ve cut at LEAST 3-4 of usage (Ahrefs). But alas. I don’t regret that spend.
I DO regret spending $800 on a writing package from an SEO content agency–although it did teach me a few important lessons!
No, I didn’t approve of their content.
It needed HEAVY edits (including “why on Earth would you even structure an article like this??”)
I got zero ROI out of that spend, though I can’t fault myself completely.
At some point, I’mma have to figure out how to scale content production–and the more I can make these types of hiring experiments, the more I’ll learn and the better I’l get.
Where do I get blog traffic from? SEO.
Like, 90% from SEO.
Here’s a % breakdown from my top-10 posts:
That’s pretty diverse, thankfully! (Also, that top post is older than several of the others).
Also, out of my top 25 posts from the past 6 months:
- 10 posts are affiliate-driven “best of” reviews
- 15 posts are info posts (question posts & guides)
Pretty even split. The top 10 posts are 5 and 5.
I wasn’t really sure how to format this section, so I’mma just wing it…
1 – I stand by my “no backlink outreach” strategy
I did try some HARO for a while (and got precisely one link!) and even asked a few friends for backlinks (none of which came through).
Other than that, I didn’t actively seek out guest posts or backlinks.
Ahrefs reports a few hundred links, but I created NONE of them.
It’s mostly garbage links that I might disavow (or just leave? Don’t really care…)
2 – Ranking is NOT a problem. Content quantity is my problem.
My measly little blog posts (WITH ZERO LINKS) currently outranks:
- The New York Times (DR 90+)
- Wirecutter (DR 90+)
- PC Mag (DR 90+)
And several other sites with WAY more “domain rating” or “domain authority” than me. Massive sites with thousands of backlinks.
IN FACT, roughly 25% of my content is rank 1 in Google. 85% of my content is in the top 3 in Google.
Re-read that 👆
While that SOUNDS awesome (ok yeah, it is) there’s also a downside: it means more traffic requires more content.
Yeah, there’s a little wiggle room for building links and driving content up a few spots in SERP, but that will be marginal for my effort.
I need more content, and possibly across more verticals/topics.
3 – My niche is HEAVILY “community & authority & respect” driven, and it’s how I outrank people
And how do I outrank the New York Times?
Most of my competitors in SERP actually have “good content” by normal standards.
- Their content is technically accurate
- They actually purchase and use the products (can’t say that about some of the blogs at the BOTTOM of SERP in my niche.)
- Good writing.
- Good images, custom graphics, etc
I’m in a niche that is secretly governed by a community (of which I’m a part of). When somebody views my content next to the New York Times–it is ABUNDANTLY clear which website is actually a part of the community.
It’s an insider vs outsider thing.
I’m not the only “insider” who blogs in this niche of course–but we ALL have a small advantage over larger sites that aren’t in the community (or niche site builders who want to compete without joining this community.)
4 – Maybe my content is too good. (seriously)
“Good” content doesn’t mean a damn thing.
SEOs and blogging influencers throw that word around, and it drives me nuts.
- “good” is subjective, first off
- “good” is a scale
I’m totally biased, but I think I produce better content than most of the internet (and to be defensive, I’ve actually been told this by numerous creators that I respect).
I obsess over my content quality.
Every single post on my site will have…
- A picture THAT I TOOK of any product I mention
- 100% accurate information.
- Tables or infographics
- LOTS of different formatting stuff (look at this page, for example)
If you wanna learn more about what I think is “good content,” watch this video 👇
So ok great, we’ve learned that Pete is amazing & has an ego.
Remember my problem? I don’t struggle with ranking, I struggle with content quantity.
In order to scale traffic (and revenue) up, I’m going to have to produce more.
There’s a good chance that my content would rank EXACTLY where it is today–with 10-20% less quality.
And if I want to hire out for content–there’s going to be a sacrifice in quality (and I have to learn to deal with it…).
5 – After 13 years, blogging is still my passion
Truth is, I FORGOT this over the span of creating Do You Even Blog.
I got into…
- creating courses
- products, launches, copywriting, etc
I enjoy TALKING ABOUT those things, and helping people with those things…
But I don’t passionately enjoy DOING them.
(mayyyybe podcasting, YouTube, and webinars–I enjoy creating content, but products & marketing, not so much).
What would I do differently?
If I could head back in my time machine (insert Delorean emoji here) to a year ago, what would I do differently?
1 – I’d do less YouTube
I thought YouTube earnings would be SWEET, but my RPM (revenue per 1k views) is SO. DAMN. LOW.
ESPECIALLY compared to the DYEB YouTube channel.
But even then, I’m going to continue to do YouTube for this project.
(Honestly? So I can build connections with brands, get free products, and get sponsorships. This niche is still my hobby, and I’d do this even if I never made a dime!)
2 – I’d produce more content. Way, way more.
I’d sacrifice quality.
I’d try to hire out (again).
In the first 3 months, I only published 5 articles!!
If I could go back, I’d try to produce 50-75 in that time.
3 – I’d “templatize” sooner
- Pre-made templates = good.
- Template YOU make specific to YOUR content = a lot better.
Over the course of 30-40 blog posts, I started creating reusable chunks of content that formed into templates specific to this site:
- My own image/graphic stock library (with named images so I can easily search and reuse them)
- More generic content that I frequently copy/paste verbatim in new posts (saves SO much time)
- Google Doc templates (especially for brand-swapping content)
It took me a long time to create these templates & systems. I wish I had started this process right from the beginning.
4 – I would focus MORE on higher-volume keywords
When I first started, this was my plan:
- Produce the “core content” (10 articles-ish) that fills out my site and shows readers I know what I’m doing–even though I’m NEVER going to rank for this stuff (think: “how to start a blog” type of keywords)
- Transition into lower-volume and less competitive keywords to start building traffic, and momentum, maybe even pick up a few links. Stuff I can rank for in year 1
Then a funny thing happened…
I started RANKING for those bigger keywords that I thought would take me 3-4 years to rank for…
Soooooo it turns out…
- Write for high-volume KWs: I rank, and get traffic
- Write for low-volume KWs: I rank, and get lower traffic
It took me 9 months to see what was going on!
I wish I would’ve focused on the bigger, more lucrative keywords. I’m still figuring out this one to this day :/
To be frank, I don’t really know. I don’t have a plan, per se…
But here’s what I’ve been thinking:
1 – Keep growing this niche site to 50k sessions/month
That’s the level needed to apply for Mediavine (and though Ezoic seems ok thus far—this seems like a good metric to focus on anyways).
Once I hit 50k/mo, I’ll re-evaluate 👇
- Should I switch to Mediavine? It will depend largely on ad rates (EMPV) and if I feel like making the switch
- Should I focus on a different project—or keep growing this first site?
- Do I keep doing what I’ve been doing, or try a new strategy (outsourcing?)
2 – Buy the Niche Site Profits course from Jon Dykstra
Last year I bought the TASS Program to re-ignite my niche site journey (and I 1000% recommend that course).
But I’m feeling the need for some “re-learning” and fresh perspectives.
I just purchased the program yesterday, as I’ve heard decent things about Jon’s stuff.
3 – Experiment with worse content
I have a really difficult time hitting ‘publish’ on something that’s just mediocre.
I have a FEELING that I need to be pushing myself to actually publish ”good enough” content in an effort to pump out more posts.
I might be getting 41k pageviews from 70ish posts—but I think 100ish posts would be yielding more traffic, even if a few of those have slightly lower rankings.
4 – Keep going on YouTube
I’m a tiny bit uncertain about my decision to KEEP doing YouTube, because it doesn’t directly bring me much right now.
Viewers & subscribers seem to like my content (I get a fair share of awesome comments every day), and I DO want to continue to make contacts with brands/communities in my niche.
I can’t predict the future, but I have a gut feeling that the YouTube channel can lead to some ”X-factor” stuff later down the road.
5 – Figure out if my site has a ”cap” on traffic
This is a weird one.
I’m curious to see if there’s a ”cap” on the amount of traffic & revenue that this particular website can achieve…
- Based on niche
- Based on advertising rates
- Based on keywords & search volume
I have a hunch that there will be a cap (though of course, I’m still nowhere near it).
I truly do NOT believe this can be a 7-figure blog/business—but I feel the urge to figure out what this cap may be—so I can NOT waste time trying to get above it.
6 – Start a new niche site
Ok, so I already have 2-3 launched (that I’m not currently focusing on though).
I might actually start a new niche site alongside the Niche Site Profits course (to test all of Jon’s strategies and report back).
However, I’ll need to be smart here…
I do NOT want to abandon this first site too soon—and leave easy opportunities on the table. It’s so hard to KNOW when to do something different!
We’ll see 😉
If you’re reading this like ”dang I want a niche site…”
Here’s some stuff for you:
- The Authority Hacker TASS Program – Expensive, but well worth it.
- 60-Minute SEO – My 100% free email course on SEO! It’s still 100% relevant, and I’m in the process of adding MORE stuff to it.
- Niche Site Kit – My templates, resources, and website theme to launch a niche site in an hour or two.
- My podcast, where I still interview people who are a lot better than me at SEO & niche sites 😉
Questions? Comments? Advice?
Hit me up in the comments below!
I’d love to hear…
- A ‘congrats’ or something. Make me feel good.
- Advice on when to STOP this project and start a new one (vs continuing to focus on this one)
- Do you want to hear more stuff on niche sites?
Drop phat comments 😉
Nice rundown on everything Pete! Thanks for sharing this valuable info. Carry on….
Congrats on a great first year with the site Pete! Starting a new site is always challenging, especially when you’ve got a lot of other stuff. Your growth trajectory is impressive. Thanks for sharing the details.
I’m with you on the content agency experience. Last year I ordered content for a new site from an agency for the first time (usually I work with individual freelancers), which was a disaster. I wound up spending just as much time re-writing the articles as I would have writing them from scratch.
Woo hoo! This is exciting news and very inspiring!
Love your insights! Thanks so much for sharing! I started a niche site a few months ago (but haven’t really given it enough attention yet). I love working on it. My niche site is my passion project. But I’m still focused on getting my main “mom blog” into Mediavine at this point. Anyway, thanks for the tips! I’ve noticed that as well about keywords. It always seems so hit and miss whichever way you go (low comp or high).
Thanks Pete for writing up this awesome progress report rather than recording another YouTube video instead! I thoroughly enjoy being able to scan through a report like this. You enjoy it more, and I enjoy it more. Win-win!!
Congrats on the success! $1k after only 1-year isn’t bad at all. Curious… do you ever plan to reveal the site/niche? Totally don’t blame you if not.
I feel you on the struggle to care less about quality. There’s just SO much low quality/high word count crap out there anymore, that exists only to maximize # of possible ad positions.
But I feel like your “lower quality” is highly likely to be better than an average blogger’s post.
There are a couple of writers I work with that consistently produce high quality content requiring few to no edits. But their rates are not sustainable for a $1K/mo side hustle. I feel like anything you would be happy with would either blow your budget or require more of your time to clean up.
Maybe the answer for less critical content is in DIYing it, but not putting your name on it. Create a fictitious user, clearly label this “contributor” as some kind of intern or junior blogger, then write and publish quickly, without editing or worrying. Think y that might work for you? I might try it!
Pete you never cease to amaze me. Like you at times I have all the ideas in my head. You’re an inspiration for getting them out and trying to pursue one at a time. 👏 well done.
Hi, I really liked your article, it’s very interesting!