Niche Website Journal: Month One Summary

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Let’s face it; there’s a lot of bullshit on the internet.

From bloggers claiming they’ve earned thousands within weeks of starting their brand new, sparse, and unoptimized websites, to people selling online courses that promise tons of traffic pretty much instantaneously from Pinterest.

I’ve had enough of it.

I do understand why it can be so tempting to publish content that features a small (or large!) degree of fiction though. There’s no denying how effective it can be.

It’s human nature.

We want everything bigger and faster than ever before, and as content consumers, we’re continually on the search for something, anything, that will help us get what we want with minimal effort.

And trust me – I’m speaking from experience as someone with a previously insatiable obsession with achieving ‘overnight success.’

I was lured in by false promises and clickbaity titles on a seemingly daily basis, ultimate spending more time looking for that elusive, magical silver bullet than dedicating myself to working on what I knew deep down would bring me closer to success.

Thankfully, I now know that the easier something is, the less worthwhile the results tend to be. Following the crowd mentality and looking for easy wins caused me to jump from idea to idea, never really persisting and working hard enough to produce the kind of value that is needed to get the results you want.

image showing the expectations versus reality of starting a niche website

That’s why I’m creating this journal series to lift the lid on what it takes to achieve success with a niche site.

No, it probably won’t be as exciting as some of the pumped-up income and success reports out there that feed on our hopes and needs for overnight success – but you know what?

It’ll be a lot more valuable as a result!

Forget fairy-tale and make-believe outcomes; I’m going to be hitting you with honest, accurate, and completely verifiable results throughout this series.

But before we go any further though, there’s a minor point I’d like to clarify first…

I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe any of the success/income reports posted online, as doing so wouldn’t be fair to the honest people who have spent years learning their craft and who post accurate representations of their results.

It would also hint of a degree of naivety and jealousy on my part, and these are traits that I’m keen to avoid!

If you’re going to compare yourself to someone – make sure it’s as close a comparison as possible. Comparing your progress to something that is made up will provide you with no value and likely feelings of being inadequate. This is the opposite of what you need!

So now that’s out of the way, let’s get stuck into the detail…

How Will This Journal Series Be Different?

In case you didn’t pick it up from the introduction, I’m going to be pulling back the covers on what I’m doing to grow, rank, and ultimately earn money from a brand new niche website.

It’ll be different from other online journals in a few key ways:

  • I’ll be showing you everything, and I mean everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • I won’t be hiding or concealing any of the mistakes I make along the way. I want this series to be as helpful as possible, and that’s I’m committing to showing you exactly what works and what doesn’t.

  • I’m starting entirely from scratch. I won’t be using an old website or domain that I’ve decided to give a brand new lease of life – the chosen domain was registered only a couple of weeks before I began collecting the results for this journal. This is important as it makes my updates as relatable as possible to anyone who wants to start their a niche website from scratch.

  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’m revealing my niche and website from the very beginning.

The format will be one monthly update post, along with interim posts covering what I’ve learned and valuable insights that you can inject into your niche site journey.

I can’t predict exactly what I’ll discuss in each monthly update post, as the format will more than likely evolve as the series develops as I add or drop particular parts based on what provides you with the most value.

Why I’m Opting for 100% Transparency

Trust me when I say that I’m under no illusions that what I’m proposing for this journal series is in stark contrast to the vast majority of content posted online.

The modus operandi of the sites that post similar niche website information is:

  • To give a wholly generic statement about what niche the website is actually in;
  • To not reveal its URL;
  • To provide unverifiable traffic and revenue data;
  • To show you supposed results, but not show you exactly how they’ve been achieved.

To this I say; what’s the point? What actual value do you get from this?

Very little, in my opinion. Perhaps the briefest and slightest bit of inspiration/motivation at a stretch…

Well, I’m committed to providing you with more than just superficial value by being 100% transparent throughout this entire process.

To help give you a better understanding of why I’ve decided to buck the niche website advice trend, I think it’s a good idea to preempt and answer some of the questions that readers will likely have.

Here goes…

  1. First of all – why?

I know how frustrating it can be to read the income reports and progress updates of people who claim to have made thousands of dollars im their first month.

I’m not saying that all of these reports are false (as I’ve mentioned above), but I’m a naturally skeptical person, and I’d advise that you be too before comparing your progress to someone else’s.

I’ve spent many, many hours in the past comparing my progress to the entirely unverified, high-level results of niche site gurus that deliberately skip the detail on how they’ve done what they’ve supposedly done.

Did it help me? Uh, no.

Quite the opposite, but thankfully I’ve now learned to take everything I read online with a pinch of salt.

I want to create something that’s entirely unlike anything else out there that has endless stats and data to back up my results and decisions: something that you don’t need to take with a pinch of salt; something that’s easily verifiable.

I think that you, the reader, as someone who is interested in how to make money online deserves that, and if I can save you time, hassle, and ultimately frustration by creating a go-to resource that gives you all the answers you need, all the better.

That’s my why.

  1. What’s in it for you?

Good question – what do I get out of this aside from the warm, fuzzy feelings of helping my readers on their journey to making money online?

As great as these feelings are; unfortunately, they don’t keep the lights on.

As I’ve said, I want to produce something of value that stands out against all the other me-too content that’s already out there – a go-to resource for anyone who is interested in how to start a niche website.

Clearly, if I achieve this, the revenue for this site will increase as its popularity grows, and I’d be lying (and you wouldn’t believe me!) if I said the thought of earning more money isn’t alluring.

More than that though – having 100% transparency provides an extreme sense of accountability. Do I want to fail publicly on the internet? Hell no. So perhaps an even bigger benefit is the fact that it’ll keep me motivated and working hard towards achieving my goals.

  1. Aren’t you worried about someone ‘stealing’ your idea?

Not really.

An idea is one small aspect of starting a niche website, or a business in general – even more important is how you act on that idea.

Will some people automatically choose the same niche as me (I reveal mine and my website below) if they see me achieving success with it? Of course – but I think all the positives that a series like this can bring will massively outweigh any negative impact from a bit of extra competition.

Expanding on this last point – I know from experience how important it is to spend time choosing the right niche for you. If you don’t truly LOVE something, you won’t stick with it.

We’ve probably all experienced the honeymoon phase where everything seems new and exciting, only to gradually get harder and harder as your motivation wanes.

If I can stress one thing now, it’s that just because this particular niche is the right option for me; it doesn’t mean it will be for you! I’m not trying to put you off at all, but it’s worth taking time at the start to think through and find something you’ll truly enjoy.

Having said that, if my chosen niche seems like the perfect, unquestionable thing for you – why are you still reading!? Hurry up and get started!

Why I Chose This Particular Niche

Wow. So we’re quite a ways into this first monthly journal update, and I still haven’t even given you a hint into what my niche website is and what it’s about.

Let’s rectify that.

I’ve chosen to start a website in the home improvement niche, with the current and planned content ultimately going to be around the tools that DIYers and professionals will use and rely on. I will also be expanding the site as the months go by to include advice and ‘how to’ guides for completing specific home improvement activities.

You can access the site here: ToolCrowd.

So why did I choose this particular type of niche website? Here are a few reasons:

  • It’s a topic that I already know quite a bit about, helping to reduce the learning curve.
  • It’s a topic that I’m genuinely interested in, which should reduce a lot of the struggles associated with staying motivated once the ‘honeymoon’ period is over.
  • It’s a large enough niche that I’ll probably never run out of things to write about, yet focused enough to appeal to a smaller group of people.
  • It’s an area that with enough work it is feasible to compete and rank well given sufficient time (I’m in this for the long haul, so I’m thinking in terms of years rather than months).

What I’ll Be Sharing

Each month, I’ll be providing the following information, stats, and results for my ToolCrowd niche website:

  • Income earned

  • Expenses incurred

  • Number of backlinks received during the month

  • Total backlinks

  • Ranking stats – e.g., domain authority plus an overview of ranking positions

  • General strategy / reasoning behind decisions made

  • Next month’s goals plus progress against this month’s goals

Creating My Niche Website – High-Level Summary

November 2nd 2018 – November 24th 2018

I won’t go into a great amount of detail about how I created ToolCrowd in this summary – if you’re interested in how to create a niche website of your own, I cover each of the steps including signing up for a web host, choosing a topic for your niche site, and choosing a theme here (it’s titled How to Start a Blog – but the process is exactly the same 😊)

I use Siteground’s GrowBig account for both OnePercentIntent and now also for ToolCrowd for two main reasons.

Firstly, I can’t fault their hosting service at all – I’ve used them since October 2016 as shown below, and I can personally vouch for the quality of their service and support.

image showing the siteground hosting package being used for my niche website journal site

Secondly, their GrowBig plan allows you to host multiple sites on the same plan – simple, convenient, and a lot easier on the wallet!

I ordered my ToolCrowd domain from Siteground on November 2nd 2018 as shown below.

image showing proof of siteground domain registration for the niche website journal site

The next step was choosing a theme, and I opted for Avada which I purchased on November 4th 2018.

I also use Avada on OnePercentIntent but it requires a separate license for each website it is used on hence the purchase shown below (don’t forget to read my full Avada theme review!).

image showing proof of purchase of the avada theme for the niche website journal site

I then spent almost three weeks configuring the niche website to my needs, and also writing the first pieces of content.

ToolCrowd went live on November 24th with three pieces of content – see below screenshot showing the Google indexing request for the first three articles.

image showing the index request in google search console for the niche website journal site

As mentioned, I’m not covering every step of how to create a niche website in this post. If you’re interested in finding out more, I cover each of the steps in detail here.

Niche Website Journal – Month One Results

November 24th 2018 – December 24th 2018

Now that I’ve given a high-level summary of what I achieved up to the point where the first pieces of content were added to ToolCrowd, the next step is to show you the results at the end of the first month of the niche website being live.

Before I do though, I’ll give you a brief overview of what I use to track the results of both this website and now my niche website.

How do I track my results?

I’ve used a couple of different things to track the results for this monthly update.

When it comes to content, it’s pretty easy to see how many articles you’ve written from within WordPress itself, and I keep track of the word count for each article using the text length output shown by the Yoast SEO plugin.

Monthly income/expenses are pretty simple to track too, all from the respective admin areas of the relevant income or expense.

For all other data shown below, for example, traffic figures, backlinks, number of ranked keywords, domain rating, and URL rating, I use a combination of the following:

  • Ahrefs – this is the software I rely on the most, and it produces a handy tracking dashboard for my niche website as shown below for month one:
image showing the stats and data from ahrefs for month one of the niche website journal site

So now that’s out of the way, let’s look at the results for month one…

Content:

Here’s all of the content I produced up to and including month one:

Month One Content Stats
Number of Articles Published13
Total Article Wordcount30,918
Average Wordcount2,378
Longest Article Wordcount3,709
Shortest Article Wordcount1,211

I’m reasonably happy with the amount of content written and posted so far.

Do I expect to write another 13 articles in month two? No.

I created three articles prior to the niche website going live, meaning I only really complete ten pieces of content during the first month. Month two also coincides with Christmas and my annual ski trip, so I don’t expect to be anywhere near as productive!

I’ll be sticking with creating longer content going forward, primarily because long-form content has been found to rank better on Google.

There are currently only four sub-2000 word articles on the website, and I’ll probably go back at some point to lengthen them.

Income:

Income was a big fat zero for month one.

I’m not surprised by this, and I’d expect this to continue until between around months three to six when organic traffic starts to grow.

Expenses:

Here are all of the expenses so far for my ToolCrowd niche website:

  • Domain Registration: $31.61 – 12 month registration from Siteground, including domain ID protect (price billed in GBP and converted to USD at correct exchange rate at time of writing).

  • Hosting: $0 – using existing Siteground GrowBig account which would usually be $5.95 per month.

  • Avada WordPress Theme: $60 – this covers a lifetime of use, plus six months of support. Click here to check out the Avada theme – I thoroughly recommend it.

  • WP Rocket Plugin: $39 – an easy-to-use plugin that’s designed to help you make your WordPress site load as quickly as possible. You can check out WP Rocket here.

  • YotuWP Plugin: $14.25 – a plugin that helps you easily integrate YouTube videos into your WordPress website.

  • Infographics Promotion: $75 – I created two infographics myself during month one, and this cost covers adding them to premium infographics databases.

Total Expenses up to and Including Month One: $219.86

Am I concerned that I’ve spent over $200 so far and I’m yet to earn even a penny from ToolCrowd? Far from it.

I’m in this for the long haul, and I view everything that I put into ToolCrowd now and in the coming months, whether that’s an expense or my time, as an investment.

Obviously, I’ll try my hardest to keep expenses low and to earn revenue as quickly as possible, but my main focus is on better keyword research, creating quality content, and boosting both the on-page and off-page SEO of the site. No, it probably doesn’t make for sexy reading short-term, but it’s what it’ll take to produce something worthwhile over the next few years.

Traffic:

According to Google Analytics, I received a total of 5 organic visitors to my niche website during month one (see image below).

Hardly inspiring…though hardly surprising either.

Even though I created and published thirteen articles, it takes a considerable amount of time to rank on Google, especially for keywords and search phrases that are more competitive. Ahrefs found that only 5.7% of newly published content will get to within the Top 10 of Google’s results in less than a year – hence my long-term approach/focus with my niche website.

image showing the organic traffic data for the niche website journal site

You may have noticed the traffic figure shown in the excerpt of my Ahrefs dashboard posted above (I’ve also posted this below).

A logical question would be, why is this different? i.e., five organic visitors according to Google Analytics versus the one visitor shown below.

image showing the organic traffic data for the niche website journal site according to ahrefs estimate

It’s pretty simple – whereas Google Analytics uses actual data, Ahrefs provides an estimate of organic traffic based on all the ranked keywords and an assessment of how much traffic each of those keywords brings in.

So, while the Ahrefs figure is helpful, and I will continue to reference it in future monthly updates, it’s the Google Analytics figure that I’ll be paying most attention to.

Backlinks:

It’s no secret that backlinks are one of the most important factors when it comes to on-page SEO, and they’re going to play a key part in how I plan to grow my niche website going forward.

My backlink strategy in month one entirely revolved around infographics (I created two which you can view here and here) and this provided ToolCrowd with six backlinks from five different domains:

image showing proof of the number of backlinks and referring domains for the niche website journal site

As you can see from the following screen of my Ahrefs dashboard, each of the backlinks received were dofollow (these provide a minor SEO boost to the recipient webpage, given that Google views these links as a ‘vote of confidence’ provided by the linking website).

While this looks great at first glance, I was keen to avoid having all dofollow links as it can quickly lead to a Google penalty if unnatural link building is suspected. I also built some nofollow links during month one, but unfortunately, these can take anywhere from hours to months to show.

image showing proof of the number of backlinks and referring domains for the niche website journal site

You can also see from the ‘URL rating distribution’ above that my links are from URLs with a relatively low rating.

Going forward, I’ll be targeting higher-rated websites to build more high-authority backlinks to boost my niche website’s SEO further.

Ranked Keywords:

According to Ahrefs, ToolCrowd was ranking for 250 keywords at the end of month one (a keyword will only show if it’s within position 1-100 of the search engine results):

image showing the organic keyword ranking data for the niche website journal site according to ahrefs

While this may sound great, it’s worth bearing in mind that results outside of the Top 10 get hardly any traffic.

As of this monthly journal update, ToolCrowd has no Top-10 ranked keywords, although this is hardly surprising or disheartening!

Month One Stats Summary:

Number of Articles Published13
Total Article Wordcount30,918
Income$0
Expenses$219.86
Traffic (Sessions)5
Traffic (Pageviews)5
Ahrefs Domain Rating4
Ahrefs URL Rating1
Number of Backlinks6
Number of Referring Domains5
Number of Ranked Keywords250

Niche Website Goals

My short-term and long-term goals for my ToolCrowd niche site are shown below.

You’ll notice that I don’t have any income-related goals for month two – simply because I think it’s too early to get hung up on revenue at this stage.

I think it’s a better idea to focus my time and energy into creating content, infographics, and on my link-building strategies in month two, as these are what will ultimately help me reach my longer-term revenue goal of $500 per month by month six.

Month Two Goals:

  • 5x 2000+ word articles written.

  • 3x additional backlinks.

  • 2x additional referring domains.

  • 3x additional infographics created.

  • Build out Pinterest profile to increase non-organic traffic.

Longer-Term Goals:

  • $500 per month revenue by month six.

That’s it for the first monthly update of my niche website journal.

I hope you find it useful and informative – let me know in the comments section if you have any questions or queries, and feel free to suggest anything else that you’d like to see going forward.

If you’d like to know how to create a niche website of your own, follow the banner below where I show you everything step-by-step.

Cheers!

– Jonathan

See also:

icon header image for the ultimate guide on how to start a niche website
icon header image for the ultimate guide on how to start a niche website

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