JOURNEY: Building a niche website (almost) from scratch to $1K/month and beyond, while everyone else is quitting the business.

Kikerinka

Elite Member
Dec 18, 2010
2,531
9,044
November 2023, everyone is counting loses from the latest Google updates. People are quitting SEO and selling their websites. The YT channels that I used to watch for inspiration in the IM niche are practically all dead. Few people that still try something with websites all use expired domains and AI for content production. What's more, the SGE is coming soon, and many people from the industry expect it to be the "last nail to the coffin" of SEO and the blogging business for people like you and me, as we have known it for the last decade...

Speaking honestly, only a crazy person would invest time & effort into an authentic niche website with a hand-written content, on a fresh domain. And yet that's exactly what I will try to do in this journey :).

Before I dive into some details, let's check the starting point:
starting_point.png
- Traffic in last 30 days: 1.5K sessions.
- Traffic distribution: 80% Organic, 15% Direct, 5% social.
- Earnings in last 28 days: $1.64


Some stats about the domain/website
- I won't say the exact age, but it is fairly new, the 2nd youngest website in my portfolio, counting both for-profit and non-profit projects.
- The domain has virtually no incoming links, with an exception of few links from Reddit, and some spammy links that all domains get nowadays, and such links do not really count for anything.
- There are some articles posted on the domain, with mixed quality. Again I won't say the exact number, but as you can see on the chart from GSC, there isn't much content posted...
- The website is monetized at the moment, but the monetization isn't done properly.
- The theme sucks, there is virtually no EEAT, and I haven't really invested any time into making the site particularly visually appealing.


Some information about the niche
- I won't disclose the exact niche of the website at the moment. I will likely disclose it in the future, when I reach the goal, or when I decide to close the journey. Please do not ask me about the exact niche, I will ignore questions/guesses related to this.
- The niche is fairly competitive, but in my opinion that's the case nowadays for all niches that have some real profitability potential :).
- Contrary to my main niche (the niche of my authority website), this niche has a potential to attract regular visitors, repetitive visits, etc. It can also get a decent chunk of traffic from social media. You can see below traffic distribution of one of the biggest websites in this niche:

traffic_sources_distribution.png
- I have a first-hand experience in the niche, and people who know me well (both my past and present) would likely consider me an expert in the niche.
- The niche is fairly seasonal, with the peak traffic in summer, but there is also content that can bring traffic in winter months.
- The niche is quite big, and the biggest websites specializing only in this niche attract between 200K-700K visitors monthly in the summer months, depending on the type of the website and the content they focus on. Please note that we speak here about serious authority websites, all of them older than 10 years and with loads of content.
- There are many ways to monetize traffic in this niche, but to be eligible for some of them, you need decent chunk of traffic & an approval which is not easy to get... I won't go into details here in order to not reveal too much information, but some websites I know in the niche have more than 5 different sources of income (methods of monetization).
- The niche has a potential for some high RPM content, but that one is incredibly hard to rank for.


Why I start this journey, and why do I start now?

- I am sure many of you wonder why. Why I start with a new website, instead of investing time in my authority website, that is well established and bringing thousands of $$$ monthly. Or why now, when everyone else is quitting the business... :). And why I start another journey on BHW??? Let me try to answer these questions the best I can:

1. Why a new website? I start with a new site, because my life has changed a lot recently, and I do not have much motivation working in my original niche anymore... I actually got rid/sold some of the websites I had in this niche, and my portfolio in it is relatively small now. This new niche, however, interests me greatly, and I believe I can bring high quality content to the readers, content that they won't find anywhere else. On the top of that, I have some other, non-monetary goals with this website, and the more traffic is has, the more likely it is that it will help me reach these goals.

2. Why do I start now? I start now from a very prosaic reason: Because I have time now. I've been extremely busy this year, and will be likely extremely busy with my offline projects & ventures from March onward, but until the end of February 2024 I have quite a lot of time, and want to dedicate part of it to this website, to this online project. Sure, the future doesn't seem very bright for niche sites, but I want to give it a try nevertheless. Maybe a few years ago with the same effort I'd get 2 times more traffic, but I am fine getting only half, because I still feel it is worth giving it a try.

3. Why do I start journey on BHW? I have a few reasons for this.
  • First of all, I hope to motivate some people, as I've done with my first journey. Maybe they won't work on niche sites, maybe they will even work with AI, and I do not really mind, as long as what I do motivates them to give a serious shot to their projects.
  • Secondly, because I want to test some hypotheses (more on them later, in my updates), and believe it can be interesting for people here to see whether these hypotheses are correct or not.
  • And last but not least, because I lost a bit my drive when it comes to computer work in general. Since I do not struggle with money anymore, do not have any material goals unfulfilled, and have many activities I like to do more than working on a computer (or using a computer in general), I find it really hard to motivate myself to sit at a desk properly, and work with real 100% focus on something online. I plan to update the journey daily during the the first phase of the project, to hold myself accountable, and since the daily updates helped me a lot in my authority website journey, I hope for the same effect with this one.

The plan, the timeline & the journey

- My main goal in this journey is simple: To devote 200 hours of serious work to this website, mostly on creating new content. Now my definition of serious work isn't what you see in corporations nowadays, or what most of you probably consider serious work.

For me, serious work means really sitting at the desk (no working from bed or beach this time around), being 100% focused on the task. Clear table, mobile phone in airplane mode or in another room, no BHW checking, no music, simply no distractions whatsoever in whatever form... Believe me that in such 200 hours a lot can be done, and a lot of great content can be produced.

- The first day of the work will be the coming Monday, 13th of November. I hope to be done with 200 of serious work by 13th February 2024, hence in 3 months. I may get it done earlier, but I have certain things planned and won't be able to work on all days or weeks. I may eventually decide to give it more than 200 hours of work (if I work more than expected), but with reaching the 200 hours I will be satisfied. During this period I will update the journey daily, on weekdays (Monday-Friday). I may work on weekends sometimes, the hours & tasks worked on during the weekend will be reported always on Monday.

- I will focus on one topical cluster only, but it is a big one. Until the summer months the content will have enough time to age, and after the summer I will see the real traffic potential it has, what works and what not, and be able to re-evaluate things.

- From March until November I won't work on this website, since I'll be busy with other things. However, I will update the journey once in a while with traffic/earnings/other interesting stats.

- Unless the results are extremely disappointing, or something unexpected happens in my life, I will resume daily work on the website in November 2024, again aiming for 200 hours of serious work, or even more, focusing on another topical cluster. I know in person a few other people who know a lot about this niche, and may even decide to involve one or two of them in the content production process. However, it depends on how well the content I write myself this winter will eventually do during the summer season....

- The financial goal for the website is $1K/month, altough I know the potential is much higher. But I prefer to stay modest at the beginning--after all it made less than $2 in last 30 days :).

- For me this is a long time project, and I definitely plan to keep this website for many years--regardless of how well it eventually performs. Hence I am in no rush, but at the same time I know that law of action and reaction cannot be broken. If I don't work on the website at all, it simply won't grow... Hence there is this journey, I will give it a serious effort for a few months at least, and let's see what the results will be.

That's if for now, for the initial post. I will write at least one more post during the weekend, about the hypotheses I want to test with this project. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here :)
 
only a crazy person would invest time & effort into an authentic niche website with a hand-written content, on a fresh domain
Love a good challenge!!
Earnings in last 28 days: $1.64
Damn straight! The reason I'm excited about this journey is cause you started from scratch.
content that they won't find anywhere else
The secret sauce has been revealed :D

So you're going to work 2-3 hours per day on average. Are you aiming to write one big article per day?

Much luck! I'll be following your journey closely.
 
I am not really into white hat type of SEO, but I've been following (silently) your previous journey to date. will be following this one as well for sure. and good luck!
 
Before the actual start, let me elaborate a bit on hypotheses I want to test with the journey.

Hypothesis no. 1: Direct traffic (and exact brand name searches) is a huge ranking factor
.


- My hypothesis is that Google still considers direct traffic as one of the most important, if not the most important ranking factor in the SERPs.

People entering your URL to Chrome directly, or your exact brand name to the search box, is a clear sign of authority, brand, recognition. People in the SEO community has speculated a lot on this, and it is also something that's extremely hard to manipulate, at least when we speak about a lot of searches from different devices, different places around the world, from unique IPs, and so on, and so forth.


As I said in my initial post, the website from this journey has a potential to attract repetitive traffic, regular visitors, etc. Of course, the content must be high quality so they remember it and want to come back. But if they do so, and if I get a lot of this type of traffic, I believe it will help with rankings also for articles/categories that do not attract repetitive/regular traffic, but perhaps can be the highest RPM posts on the website. I also believe having a lot of direct traffic is a good protection from the impact of Google updates.


Hypothesis no. 2: Long tail and super long tail keywords still count for the majority of traffic
.

- What I write now will surprise most of you, but in this first year, for 90% of content of this website, I won't do any keyword research. I will simply write for people, covering in depth content/topics I know people are interested in, in general. How does that work?

Imagine BHW for example
... Nobody posts here content with an aim to rank it for certain keywords in Google. Yet BHW still gets over 500K organic visitors from search every month... How that's possible? It happens simply because BHW ranks for tons of long tail keywords in IM/SEO/Social Media niche etc, unintentionally. There is just so much content created here around these topics that it is bound to pop up in SERPs for all sorts of long tail keywords...

And I will try to do something similar with this website. Covering in-depth certain topics/content areas in my niche, posting a lot of details, and hopefully (that's the hypothesis :)) colecting a lot of traffic along the way, even without really ranking for some major keywords that are supposed to generate lot of searches every month.


Hypothesis no. 3: In order to generate conversions for expensive items, trust in the brand is necessary.

- Imagine that you go to a store with shoes, trying to buy your first pair of running shoes. There is a shop assistant, you've never seen him before. He praises extensively the most expensive model out there, for $250+, and telling you that if you're serious about your running, you simply have to have that pair of shoes. He names all the features and everything...

For a moment you hesitate. You may even try them, and run for 20 meters inside the store. But then you tell yourself that even though you like the guy, he's a shop assistant and probably earns a comisssion based on the sales he makes. Eventually you either leave the store without buying anything, or get some model for $50, or get home, do your research, and eventually buy the expensive model, but online. And the poor guy from the retail store won't make any comission :).

Now imagine a different situation. Instead of going to a store, you visit a friend you've known for a long time. He's a good runner, and in the past he gave you a good advice about various things. This time around you ask him what running shoes you should buy as a beginner. He recommends you a brand he likes, a pair costs $180. Since you trust him, you simply go for it, buying the shoes without too much of additional thinking and research.

This is how trust works, and it doesn't matter what field or niche we speak about here. Sartre sold on BHW pure illusion for $10K/piece, or useless services for $800, to many people (and many of them fairly intelligent and/or skilld in IM), simply because he had trust and reputation on the forum.

Obviously I do not want to promote illusions on the website, but, considering the niche, I have an opportunity to promote in the content some high ticket items, with prices in hundreds of dollars. Actually I already do so (though on a small scale and improperly), but since there is no trust in the brand and no relationship between me and them, even if people click on the links they simply do not convert...

However, I believe that once these are not random visitors but people who come repeatedly to the website, people who perhaps type the URL directly to Google, people who perhaps been there 10 times before, and now, on their 11th visit they read the article recommending a $300 product they perhaps may need (now or in the future), the chances of them actually making a purchase and converting are much much higher.

These are the three hypotheses I want to test with this project. Obvioulsy they are all interrelated, and the sequence below sort of illustrates my idea:
  1. High quality in-depth content attracts new visitors to the site, mostly through long tail and super long tail keywords.
  2. Visitors love the content, and since they are interested in the niche as a whole, and the content is well structured and interlinked, they check more content on their first visit, bookmark the site, and a certain % of them comes back again (direct traffic).
  3. As direct traffic to the website grows, Google improves the ranking for the entire website, and we get even more first-time visitors.
  4. The repeating visitors trust the website more and more, and hence when they decide about purchasing an expensive item recommended on the website, they are more likely to actually convert (which means we make that juicy commission)...
  5. The website grows as a brand even more, gets more direct traffic, as a result the rankings are even better, and it is not prone to Google updates that much, since people who generate the most income are actually those people who visit the website directly and repeatedly (without googling anything), trust the brand, and make those expensive purchases once in a while.

Obviously the sequence above won't happen in a month, and in order to test my hypotheses I first need to get the ball rolling. That means taking care of step 1. - creating the content, structuring and interlinking it properly, and making sure the website has a nice design and looks trustable and is easy to navigate and find content on.


Love a good challenge!!

Damn straight! The reason I'm excited about this journey is cause you started from scratch.

The secret sauce has been revealed :D

So you're going to work 2-3 hours per day on average. Are you aiming to write one big article per day?

Much luck! I'll be following your journey closely.
Thank you mate, starting from scratch is always something exciting to me :).
I actualy hope to work like 3-4 hours/day (Monday to Friday), and the 13th February is more of a upper limit to have the 200 hours done. But let's see how things go.

I will explain more the type of work I do in the daily updates :)

I am not really into white hat type of SEO, but I've been following (silently) your previous journey to date. will be following this one as well for sure. and good luck!
Thank you mate!

Nobody is quitting the business in this forum.
Best of luck with yours.
Thank you mate!
Actually many people who ran interesting websites and I followed their journeys here, or on YT, have quit, or at least they are not in the blogging/SEO game anymore... Sure, there are now lot of AI journeys and stuff, and no doubt some of that is interesting to me as well, but it isn't a similar type of endeavor as I want to document in this journey.
 
Great that you are starting a new journey! Fortunately, this time I'm in from the beginning and not just starting after 5 months, where you first have to read for 6 or 7 hours to catch up :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your project will be successful.

Looking forward to reading your updates every evening again (like a few years ago when your previous journey was almost every day bedtime reading for me).
 
Direct traffic is indeed one of the best signals for Google. That's why it is still much easier to rank short EMDs. Do you plan to use your real identity for the new site or a different name and random, AI-generated picture? Real photos would help to create a more personal connection with your readers. I personally always prefer to hide my face and identity.
 
What's thw current state of your site? As in what seo optimization have you been doing. On the topic of seo optimization, how is your site already getting this much traffic, it's rare for a fresh site using no expired domain or backlinks. Also what's your plan for the future Google updates? Your site could be knocked down easily there.
 
Great that you are starting a new journey! Fortunately, this time I'm in from the beginning and not just starting after 5 months, where you first have to read for 6 or 7 hours to catch up :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your project will be successful.

Looking forward to reading your updates every evening again (like a few years ago when your previous journey was almost every day bedtime reading for me).
Thank you mate, I know the habit of posting an update every evening helps building other good habits (and good habits are the key), and hence I will definitely do my best to keep it, at least during the week.

On a side note, I hope your website is doing well and you aren't too discouraged by the latest G updates :).

How did you get 1.5K Clicks in 30 days using a fresh domain?
The domain isn't completely fresh. I mean, I bought it as a fresh domain, but I didn't buy it a month ago.

Since I try to prevent here the same thing happening as happened in my other journey (somebody discovering the website and posting the url and my name all over the internet), I won't say when exactly I bought the domain, since that's one of the pieces of information that make discovering a website more easy...

To be honest, again I do not mind if somebody finds the domain (for example by stumbling upon it by random Googling some information from the niche I will cover), but I like to keep a low profile and nobody really has to know it is me behind the website...

Indeed. Couldn't believe when Shaun Marrs sold his websites and decided to do Tiktok + yt instead. But I guess Tiktok is king nowadays so why not.
Yeah, but it isn't only him :). BTW, do you by any chance know about his new accounts? I would love to see his new YT channel, or even TikTok. If you have some info please send it to me privately by PM. I am sure Shaun would not mind...

Here we go ... again ... ;)
:D, yes, but this time it will be different, on so many levels.

Direct traffic is indeed one of the best signals for Google. That's why it is still much easier to rank short EMDs. Do you plan to use your real identity for the new site or a different name and random, AI-generated picture? Real photos would help to create a more personal connection with your readers. I personally always prefer to hide my face and identity.
100% I will use a pen name. I may use real pictures though.

Good luck.

I did not see how much articles per day will be possible with the time devoted?
I do not know it either... To be honest, the niche has a potential for 100s of articles easily. But in this first phase of building it, I'll be happy with 30-40. However, the articles will likely be much longer and also harder to write than on my authority website.
I really want to make them content-rich, to be able to collect a lot of data in GSC over the summer, and be able to plan next steps better.


Good luck Kikerinka, i enjoy reading your journeys
Nice to see you around mate :).

Good luck. I will be following this.
Thx mate.

Following this, very inspiring!
Thanks mate.

Back to the grind. Good luck!
EXACTLY. Tomorrow the grind starts. Hopefully I haven't become too lazy over the years and will be able to keep it up. The journey should help with motivation :).

What's thw current state of your site? As in what seo optimization have you been doing. On the topic of seo optimization, how is your site already getting this much traffic, it's rare for a fresh site using no expired domain or backlinks. Also what's your plan for the future Google updates? Your site could be knocked down easily there.
As I've already said, I didn't get the website before 30 days exactly. There are no backlinks though, and little content posted. Again, I prefer avoiding mentioning exact number of articles presently online, since it is another footprint to help discover the website.

With Google updates potentially smashing the site, well, that's a kind of risk all of us have to accept nowadays :). But the advantage is that in this niche, I can get lot of direct traffic over-time, and if I wanted I could also promote it on Social Media, or there is even an option of offline promotion for this niche (which again isn't the case for my main niche, the niche of my authority website).

Hence while I plan to rely mostly on Google traffic, it isn't the only source of traffic to rely on this time.


To all: Tomorrow day 1. I am excited, but at the same time wonder how my eyes and brain deal with this type of grind again. Anyway, we will see.
 
Thank you mate, I know the habit of posting an update every evening helps building other good habits (and good habits are the key), and hence I will definitely do my best to keep it, at least during the week.

On a side note, I hope your website is doing well and you aren't too discouraged by the latest G updates :).
Thank you for asking. Everything is fine on my side, I don't notice any effects of the latest Google updates. However, my big site is also seasonal and the low season started in October. I am therefore expecting around 30-50% less revenue than in summer and am already looking forward to spring when visitor numbers pick up again.

Good luck tomorrow. I am convinced that you will achieve it, even if you find it difficult at first.
 
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