Happy Birthday To NicheHacks: 2 Year Progress & Growth Report

Filed in Case Studies, Progress Reports by on December 29, 2015

Earlier this month NicheHacks turned 2 years old.

Unbelievable, right?

It both feels so quick and so long ago at the same time.

When I first launched the blog I wasn't even sure my little one man side project blog would take off.

I mean how many times can you talk about niche research and people still be interested?

Of course it was only after launching it clicked that the secret wasn't to talk just about niche research.

But to actually reveal niches and show how to profit from them and that way we'd NEVER run out of content ideas.

Because that's something EVERY potential internet marketer struggles with – finding a niche. So there is huge demand for it.

And here we are 2 years later...

NicheHacks is my main project.

There's 5 main team members; myself, my assistant Nader, and the writing team Chelsea, James and Jawad (thanks for being hard working and cooperative guys)

And a team of behind the scenes researchers who compile the niche reports (the unsung hero's)

241 posts have been published, read, shared and linked to (thanks for reading!)

Literally thousands of niches have been revealed and 100s analysed and compiled into reports.

Over half a million visitors (565,457 to be precise) have visited the site in total (thank YOU for visiting)

The members area has 432 paying members (thanks for supporting the site!)

The Facebook Mastermind Group has almost 10,000 members (thanks for making the group one of the better IM groups on FB)

The email list has over 19,000 subscribers (thanks for reading my emails).

And most importantly many of the NicheHacks tribe have gone on to do big things and live their dream lives thanks to niches or information we've published on NicheHacks.

Many more indirectly through affiliate products I've recommended.

And that's just the ones I know about, not everyone gets in touch to share their success as they are too busy being successful.

I don't know if you're impressed?

But I certainly am.

From a one man blog in the competitive internet marketing niche to the #1 blog for profitable niches with a full team of staff and tens of thousands of loyal fans (thanks!)

The only thing next is to conquer the world, right? 😉

Well before we do that let's continue with this 2 year progress report first...

 

 

History

For anyone who wasn't here with me since the beginning let me give you a little history...

 

Original Aim

I'd wanted to launch an online marketing blog for some time...

But I didn't want to create another generic "internet marketing" blog for you where I covered pretty much anything and everything on the topic of making money online from blogging to SEO to freelance writing and beyond.

This is something I see often in the IM blog niche which is ironic considering we should know the importance of picking a super specific niche more than anyone.

So my plan was to "niche down" and pick an online marketing sub-category.

The original ideas that seemed the most promising were affiliate marketing, email marketing, blogging and traffic.

Most of these could have been niched down even further than that.

Eventually I realized that "finding a niche" was a niche in it's self and could make for a great blog.

I think this is very important for anyone trying to make a name for them in this busy industry - don't try and cover everything "online marketing" but focus on something very specific and nail it.

You CAN include other related topics but always have a main topic you focus on.

Look at some of the biggest blogs in the field they all cover specific topics:

  • Jon Morrows BoostBlogTraffic (Blog Traffic)
  • Brian Deans Backlinko (SEO)
  • Derek Halperns Social Triggers (How Psychology Relates To Marketing)
  • Spencer Haws NichePursuits (Niche Marketing)
  • Rand Fishkins MOZ (SEO)

You see the pattern here?

They all focus on one core topic and have mastered it but occasionally branch out into related topics which their audiences enjoy.

You should too.

Be known as the authority in a very specific topic.

Like NicheHacks is known as the place to go if you want profitable niche ideas.

 

A Slight Shift In Focus

One of the most difficult thing for most aspiring marketers is doing niche research so my idea was to create a blog that showed different ways that you could do niche research

So I started planning out topics such as "The Ultimate Guide To Niche Research", along with other topics I thought were important such as how to create content in niches you didn't know much about, how to become an authority in any niche, and 101 different ways to find niche ideas and more.

It quickly dawned on me that your end goal wasn't to learn how to do niche research BUT to simply find a profitable niche and make money from it

Suddenly it became clear the major focus of the site should be to actually reveal profitable niches and give you a plan to profit from them as well as showing you how to do niche research.

The first major niche I revealed and 'hacked' apart was Paleo.

Literally no one else was doing that at the time as far as I knew and I still don't think anyone else is, not to any significant level anyway.

Since then I've literally revealed thousands of profitable niches on the blog for you.

As well as the niche research topics and revealing niches I knew I had to also cover other aspects of online marketing like traffic, SEO, blogging and email marketing which I've done but the core topics are on the niches.

However I missed a trick...

Whilst revealing niches is something that no one else is doing and in huge demand.

People are looking for niches for dozens of different things from affiliate sites to info-products to ecommerce to local business to Amazon FBA and beyond.

This means we have people coming to the blog for many different reasons and I can't possibly cater to all them (nor should you ever try to cater to 'everyone' as you end up catering to no one)

I should have been more specific and made it clear it was niches for a very specific type of person / site.

Like niches for blogs or affiliate sites for example.

It turns out now our audience are mostly made up of a fairly even split of affiliate site owners and bloggers.

So now I try to focus the content towards them as best I can to eliminate anyone else who may stumble across the blog but who we aren't catering to.

 

Other Aims:

Other aims included helping YOU to live out your dreams whatever they may be just like I am.

Online marketing allows me the freedom to travel, live in tropical countries, do as I please from day to day and keeps me away from the 9 to 5.

That might not be what you want from life.

You may just be happy with enough cash to cover the bills, work less, and spend more time with your family.

Or you might want more than me...super yachts, fancy cars and mansions.

And that's OK. Whatever you want you should have a chance to get it.

I believe we should all be in as much control of our own lives as possible and have the freedom to choose what we do from day to day.

Not forced through necessity to head to a work place we don't want to be in every day, doing stuff for others we don't care much about, our schedule fixed for us because we have no control over our start or finish times.

Like as simple as if you want to stay in bed till 10am one morning you can.

If you want to go out late and enjoy a few drinks you can without having to worry about waking up the next day.

If someone says “hey let's go to the beach for a few days” you can say “let's do it” without thinking twice because you have the free time and money.

Also:

I also wanted to put out the sort of content you don't find on most blogs. Epic big posts. In-depth guides. Tutorials.

The sort of stuff people would pay good money for but could find here free.

Topics like The Ultimate Guide To Finding A Profitable Niche, 31 Ways To Promote Blog Posts, 34 Ways To Skyrocket Your Blogs Email List, 1109 Profitable Niche Markets Evaluated

I was inspired by blogs such as Matt Woodward, Backlinko, Viper Chill and Quick Sprout.

Another major point was to avoid the typical spammy income claims and promises of getting rich overnight without doing any work that's so prevalent in this industry

I've been clear to tell everyone from the start that this IS hard work, it's not easy, and you do need to invest a lot of time in it to work.

How do you think I did at meeting those initial aims?

 

The Brand

I wanted to create a memorable brand for the site.

I brainstormed for days to come up with the 'perfect' name even though whenever anyone asks me for advice on picking a domain name I tell them there's no such thing and they should just pick something and get on with it.

Your brand IS important and a good, memorable name, does help but I've heard of people spending WEEKS or even MONTHS on it which is just crazy.

Your content and promotion is FAR more important and will give you much bigger success than your domain name will.

In the end I was torn between two names:

NicheHacks and NicheShortcuts

I preferred NicheHacks but I was worried the 'hacks' bit could be misunderstood - and it has a couple of times that I know of.

So I almost went with NicheShortcuts even though I didn't think it was as powerful.

At the very last minute I changed my mind and went with NicheHacks.

I think I made the right decision, what do you think?

Now we've rapped up the history and reasoning behind the blog let's look at my aims for 2015..

 

The Aims I Had For 2015:

  • To be making £10,000 / $15,000 income per month from NicheHacks
  • To see more NicheHacks success stories and people realizing their dreams thanks to the niches and information we publish on the site.
  • Keep releasing more digital info products to compliment Find Your Niche In 7 Easy Steps.
  • Create a more in-depth A to Z course that covers everything from start to finish of running a profitable niche site
  • Big focus on paid traffic as it's the only traffic that's truly sustainable and scalable and just makes sense
  • Have automated sales funnels in place bringing in traffic and making money on auto-pilot without me having to do any work to make that money.
  • Outsource and automate more so that every task that 100% can be done by someone else is, saving me time to focus on the bigger picture.
  • Hire a VA to deal with emails and other day to day tasks
  • Hire someone to do content outreach and networking to give the posts the exposure they deserve and bring in links and social shares
  • Redesign the blog to look more modern and be more functional because the theme isn't the best, the logo poor and the design outdated.

 

Did I Achieve My Aims?

  • Making £10K / $15K – SORT OF
  • More NicheHacks Success Stories - YES
  • Keep releasing more digital products – SORT OF
  • Create an A to Z course – NO
  • Focus on paid traffic – NO
  • Automated sales funnels – YES
  • Outsource and automate – YES
  • Hire a VA – YES
  • Hire someone to do content outreach – NO
  • Redesign the blog – NO

That's only a 40% success rate. Or up to 60% if you include the 'sort ofs'. Not great really is it?

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: MAKING £10K / $15k A MONTH

The aim was that I would consistently be making this.

It didn't happen

However:

I had 2 months where I hit this target but it can't be replicated every month yet due to the circumstances (good affiliate promos and launches).

This doesn't happen every month.

If I want this to happen I need to have a high end course (or one I promote as an affiliate), sales funnels in place pushing everyone towards it, and gear all my content and marketing activities towards it.

 

Lesson to be learned:

Don't reply on affiliate promos or product launches for your income.

Have a high end course that your readers are crying out for.

Have sales funnels in place that push ALL your audience towards that course.

And tweak and test until you reach your income target.

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: MORE NICHEHACKS SUCCESS STORIES

NicheHacks is nothing without it's tribe.

Just like your business is nothing without it's customers.

But it's so easy to take them all for granted after a while.

You have to remember, and I need to remind myself this regularly, that they make your lifestyle possible.

As they are the ones buying your products.

Without them supporting you you have nothing.

This year we've seen many of the NicheHacks tribe go on to do great things.

Such as:

Finally get started with online marketing after so long procrastinating.

Find their perfect niche and use it to make their first dollar online.

Use the niches and information we give away to make a full time income online and finally quit their job.

And much more.

We've published a selection of success stories.

Not all of these are directly successful due to NH but it gives you a taste of what the NH tribe is doing.

And there's many more that have been successful thanks to NH that we haven't gotten round to featuring yet.

I believe that in 2016 we will see many more success stories.

However...

There are also people that no matter how much advice, help, guidance and support you give them are just never happy and will never succeed.

They have the wrong mindset, the wrong attitude, and aren't cut out for it.

They typically blame everyone else for their short comings, they think the world owes them a favour, and want everything for nothing.

The cheapest customers, or the ones who haven't even bought anything yet, are often the biggest complainers ironically.

Don't deal with these types at all. Eliminate them from your business before they even have a chance to get involved.

You need to focus on the 20% of customers who are a good fit for you and your business and have the right mindset to make things work and not the other 80% who aren't really motivated and ready to take this seriously.

 

Lessons Learned:

You are nothing without your customers so never forget it. Treat them well and always have their best interests at heart as they are what drives your business and funds your lifestyle

However that doesn't mean you need to pander to every single customers needs.

There is such a thing as bad customer such as the ones who spend little money yet expect the most service, complain about everything, buy just to refund, expect too much etc.

Eliminate these ones from your business immediately. Do whatever you can to stop them becoming customers.

Focus on the 20% of customers who are a good fit for you and your business so you can make awesome things happen for them.

The other 80% may well be made up of people who aren't 100% dedicated to what you're doing and trying to do for them so don't try and please everyone.

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: RELEASE MORE DIGITAL PRODUCTS

I released 2 more:

101 Digital Affiliate Hacks – best selling yet

And..

101 Traffic Hacks

And then I stopped.

I had plans to do a product every month.

And even made a calendar of products I would launch

But I kept delaying things and it just never happened despite one product 'Viral Content Hacks' being 100% complete and ready to do.

At some point I decided that a product launch every month, whilst very profitable (101 Digital Affiliate Hacks did over $8K profit on the launch if I remember right without any affiliates), that it wasn't sustainable to do launches every month.

Too much extra work involved every month

Too much stress (they are stressful times worrying if everything is set up properly)

You get burnt out and it's harder to put out quality products every month.

And most importantly:

It's not a good business model as it means you have to continually be launching new products to make money.

 

Lesson to be learned:

Monthly product launches are not sustainable.

You can't create new, worthwhile, products every month anyway.

There's only so much things you can realistically teach that your audience need.

Instead, and I touched on this in the previous lesson, have ONE high end course that is a great fit for the bulk of your audience and make it evergreen.

You can just set up your sales funnels to continually be promoting that month after month meaning no more work needed from you to make money.

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: CREATING AN A TO Z COURSE

This is been something on the cards forever but I just never seem to get round to it.

At first I just didn't know what type of course to make as my audience was so fragmented and coming to the blog for different things.

Bloggers. Affiliate site owners. Digital product creators. Ecommerce. Etc.

But then I spent ages analysing the blog content, most popular pages, highest visited categories, highest converting opt ins, product sales and more.

Plus surveyed, polled and data mined the Facebook posts to see what you were doing.

And it became much clearer.

So I SHOULD have been able to start....

But I didn't.

And then I thought I'd just use an existing affiliate course / program

But couldn't find a good fit.

Then Niche Profit Full Control launched last month

And it was perfect.

I promoted it as an affiliate and it was one of my most successful affiliate promos of all time.

And you guys totally loved it.

But after the launch it went offline with the promise it'd be evergreen in the new year.

When that happens I will most likely use this as the high end course instead of creating my own.

I don't think I could create one any better, more professional or more suited anyway so it just makes sense.

 

Lesson to be learned:

Sometimes other people create better stuff than you. And faster too.

When they do don't try and compete just use it to your advantage.

In this case promote it as an affiliate.

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: FOCUS ON PAID TRAFFIC

So I realised in 2015 that paid traffic should have been a huge part of my strategy from day 1.

And I hadn't even started it yet.

So I started with FB Ads. Retargeting any of you who visited my sales pages during product launches.

And I racked up some nice extra sales from them

But then after the launch they stopped being very effective and not making any sales.

So I paused them and never got started with them again.

So silly.

I know I have to master paid traffic. I want to do it.

But I've never made the time for it yet.

Really dumb.

And as I currently don't do any active marketing or traffic generation methods for NicheHacks traffic whilst growing doesn't grow much.

We're ticking along, traffic is flowing, money is coming in from previous links, rankings, social shares, forum posts etc...

But just think how much traffic and money it could be if there was a proven strategy in place!

Such as an outreach process for each post.

A social media strategy.

Content distribution.

And of course a paid traffic strategy to get every post out there.

 

Lesson Learned:

You not only need a traffic strategy in place if you want to grow your audience.

It needs to be automated and sustainable and scalable.

And only PAID traffic offers that so get on it NOW over all the other methods.

 

Recommended reading:

How 44 Experts Use Facebook Ads To Get Traffic To Their Blog:

http://nichehacks.com/facebook-ads-for-bloggers-to-get-traffic/

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: AUTOMATED SALES FUNNELS

A sales funnel is simply something that makes you money on auto-pilot.

It's genius.

You funnel traffic to it and it warms up the traffic (via your content / emails / sales message) and then sells.

You don't need to be promoting or actively selling to make money.

I didn't have this until about 6 months ago.

Now I do.

I refocused the blog so that whenever anyone opts in they are then shown a relevant lead product.

And an email follow up series is sent to them educating them more and then exposing them more to my marketing message and product.

Having this in place adds an extra $3,500 of profit on auto-pilot every month like clockwork with no additional work from me.

And that's with the most basic of funnels on only 3 of my lead magnets (I don't have my own paid products for the others)

 

Lessons Learned:

Sales funnels increase your income and they bring in money like clockwork on auto-pilot.

If you don't have one you don't have a real business.

You just have something that makes money when you put work in – that's just a job.

A business should run without you having to constantly do more work month on month to generate the income.

Without one you can't take time off to travel, chill out, or if you get sick.

Get those sales funnels in place now.

 

Recommended Reading:

How To Create A Sales Funnel For Your Niche Site: http://nichehacks.com/niche-sales-funnels/

How $500 In Sales Could Have Been $3,000: http://nichehacks.com/selling-your-own-products-and-sales-funnels/

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: OUTSOURCE MORE AND HIRE A VA

I did well with this.

I have a full team of dedicated writers that put out great content every month.

Thanks James, Jawad and Chelsea

And thanks to writers who have left the team but have not been forgotten – Chris and Kristi.

I hired one of NicheHacks biggest fans Nader to manage the blog.

He'll be the first to admit he got off to a slow start but now he's doing a great job and manages the day to day stuff that I'm too lazy / stupid to do.

He checks all the emails you send and replies to everyone.

He manages the FB group keeping it spam free and filled with good discussion.

He formats and schedules posts, comes up with ideas for the blog, creates content, and does anything I don't feel like doing.

Then there's the behind the scenes team of researchers who research and compile the niche reports you see on the blog and in the members area.

There's still a few areas that I will look to outsource further in 2016 but I've been able to cut my work day down considerably if I just do what needs done and get offline (something I find hard but I'm improving at).

 

Lessons Learned:

You cannot do everything.

You're not good at everything.

Other people can do things better and faster than you.

And often they aren't expensive as you might think. Hire people to do the jobs that take up the most time but bring in the least revenue.

You're supposed to be the business owner who works ON his / her business not IN it.

Get a team in place.

It takes time.

And you'll have many false starts and have to let people go.

But if you're patient.

Document and template everything.

Create processes and system for people to follow

And are willing to work with them to improve.

Then you can outsource it all.

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: HIRE SOMEONE TO DO CONTENT OUTREACH

I went so far as to gather applications (some great ones too) and short list them.

And then I never followed up with it as I felt like I had too much on.

The issue I had was prioritization.

I'm great at coming up with ideas and then deciding this must be done NOW.

So I schedule it up on the calendar for later in the week even though it's not a priority.

And when it comes round I get stressed about it as I've not enough time due to other work.

And it ends up not getting done.

So I never got round to doing it.

In 2016 maybe?

 

Lesson Learned:

Prioritization.

This lesson is nothing to do with content outreach. But to do with prioritization.

Just because you have an idea doesn't mean you need to do it now.

Especially if you have a lot on. Work out how important it is and schedule it accordingly.

Will it directly increase your bottom line. If YES then sure do it SOON.

When you're free from the other tasks you are working on.

If not it can be done at a later date when the important things are done.

 

  • AIMS FOR 2015: REDESIGN THE BLOG

I've wanted to redesign the blog for ages.

I bought Thrive Themes to do just that.

I even tried to install it.

But it wasn't that simple.

My current theme didn't translate well over to Thrive and the pages didn't look good. It could have been fixed but I needed someone else to do it.

So after spending 2 weeks trying to fix it all unsuccessful and hiring multiple people from Odesk who didn't do what I asked them I gave up on it.

I was focusing so much on this I wasn't focusing on making money and the blog and income suffered.

So I scrapped the idea and never got back to it.

Again it's about prioritization.

Wait until you have enough time to do it so you don't feel rushed and under pressure.

 

Lesson to be learned:

Some things just aren't as important as you think they are to begin with.

Sure a re-design would be nice.

It'd look swish and all.

But does it really, matter?

Is it more important than making money?

NO!

So think about it before you waste lots of time on it.

 

Recommended reading:

34 Lessons Learned From Running NicheHacks For 18 Months:

http://nichehacks.com/34-lessons-learned-from-running-nichehacks-for-18-months/

 

Progress & Growth Report: Income, Traffic,  Email.

Below shows the stats for now compared with 2014 and the increase or decrease since then to see how the site is improving or failing.

  • Traffic
    2015: 565,457
    2014: 217,920
    + 159.47%

 

  • Unique Visitors
    2015: 311,918
    2014: 118,345
    + 163.37%

 

  • Page Views
    2015: 1,181,574
    2014: 459,109
    + 157.36%

 

  • Pages per session
    2015: 2.09
    2014: 2.11
    - 0.81%

 

  • Average Duration
    2015: 00:02:57
    2014: 00:03:07
    - 5.02%

 

  • Bounce Rate
    2015: 66.72%
    2014: 65.01%
    - 2.64%

 

  • New Visitors
    2015: 54.37%
    2014: 54.27%
    - 0.85%

 

  • Number of posts published
    2015: 94
    2014: 117
    - 23

 

  • Email subscribers
    2015: 19,134
    2014: 5862
    + 13,272

 

Summary:

So traffic, unique visitors and page views are up by a significant amount which is great.

However pages per session, average duration spent on site, bounce rate and new visitors are all down.

As I haven't actively marketed the blog in well over a year, don't have a set system in place for content promotion and distribution and am not utilizing paid traffic it's good to see traffic grew

[And yes I know it's crazy I have none of that in place, I need to remedy it, I let the content promotion strategy fall by the way side].

I don't have any concrete answers as to why bounce rate, page per session or average duration are down as I stopped tracking it some time ago preferring to focus on opt ins and converting into sales.

The email list looks like it has grown by 13,272 subscribers but it hasn't. Before I had one list for the whole site so whatever lead magnet you opted in for you ended up on the same list .

Now if you opt in for different lead magnets you go on different lists and can be on multiple lists at the same time.

Also I have separate lists for each of my products and a general broadcast list.

Any one person can be on multiple lists at the same time and usually are so the numbers are skewed.

 

Lessons Learned:

Have a content marketing strategy in place and a system to get traffic from search engines, social media and paid sources, otherwise you're hoping for the best that your traffic will grow.

Keep an eye on bounce rate and time spent on site but don't get carried away with it at the end of the day what matters is getting the right people to your site and converting them into subscribers and paying customers and not everyone fits that criteria.

 

Recommended reading:

Traffic category: http://nichehacks.com/category/traffic/

 

  • PROGRESS AND GROWTH: TRAFFIC SOURCES

2015:

  • Organic search: 294,951 (52.16%)
  • Direct: 148,518 (26.27%)
  • Referral: 72,149 (12.76%)
  • Social: 47,455 (8.39%)
  • Email: 1,805 (0.32%) *
  • Other: 408 (0.08%)
  • Paid search: 99 (0.2%)

2014:

  • Organic: 107,728 (49.43%)
  • Direct: 70,094 (32.16%)
  • Referral: 28,499 (13.08%)
  • Social: 11,020 (5.06%)
  • Email: 134 (0.06%)
  • Other: 427 (0.20%)
  • Paid Search: 28 (0.01%)

Change:

  • Organic: +173.79%
  • Direct: +111.88%
  • Referral: +153.16%
  • Social: +330.63%
  • Email: +1,247.01%
  • Other: +12.41%
  • Paid Search: +253.57%

* false number as G Analytics doesn't properly track clicks from email unless set up with specific tracking links which I've never set up so email instead comes under 'direct' traffic.

 

Summary:

You can see that organic traffic has INCREASED since last year and as I said one of my aims was to move away from reliance on Google that's not a good sign.

We've never chased Google traffic and done no keyword research, on page SEO or backlink building and we're not completely reliant on it but I don't like that over 50% of all traffic comes from there.

We're getting less direct traffic (which includes when people come from their favourites bar, type the domain directly into their browser, or email as G Analytics doesn't track email) which is a BAD sign.

I had wanted that to increase.

Social is up more than 3% which is OK but I actually had expected more due to the fact we now have a 9,000 member strong Facebook mastermind group where the content is regularly shared.

The email number is meaningless as G Analytics doesn't track traffic from Aweber (my autoresponder) so not sure what those numbers even mean. And email traffic is a BIG chunk of my traffic.

 

Lessons to be learned

  • Never be overly reliant on one traffic source. If it dries up or disappears you're screwed.
  • Don't let Google control your business. I hammer home this point all the time and then I find out we're more reliant on them than this time last year even though one of my aims was to move away from it.
  • Set up your Google Analytics so they can track clicks from email so you know exactly how many visitors you're getting. It can be done it's just not standard in G Analytics.
  • Running a large social group with thousands of members doesn't necessarily mean a huge increase in traffic as we can see from the just 3% rise. Maybe I need to be more aggressive with the content promotion to the group.

 

Recommended Reading:

The BuzzFeed Formula: How To Consistently Get 1,000,000 Shares Per Post:

http://nichehacks.com/buzzfeed-formula/

18 Lessons Learned About Blog Traffic: http://nichehacks.com/lessons-learned-blog-traffic/

7 Sneaky Ways To Get Traffic Without Search Engines: http://nichehacks.com/traffic-without-search-engines/

The Begginners Guide: How To Get Traffic: http://nichehacks.com/increase-website-traffic/

 

  • PROGRESS AND GROWTH REPORT: CONTENT

Most popular pages and post by traffic

 

By social shares according to BuzzSumo:

We started out 2015 mostly using the “skyscraper technique” to find proven viral content and then improve on it (but we totally failed on the outreach part sadly which makes the whole thing a bit pointless).

We also put out case studies, how to's / tutorials, lessons learned posts, niche reports, members success stories, list posts.

Over the last few months we evaluated things and surveyed lots of you and found that many of you were overwhelmed with the monster 3-5,000 word posts we were putting out.

So we've started putting out some smaller 1-2,000 posts instead that really cater to your needs.

Feedback so far has been good on them but it's too early to tell if they will increase traffic, time spent on site, bounce rate and conversions. I will have to evaluate that in the new year.

 

Lessons Learned:

  • People are crazy for niches and that's why they come to NicheHacks mainly as you can see by the niche category page being the second most popular on the site, no surprise really.But we had a long period where we weren't publishing many new niche reports on the blog, thankfully we've remedied that now and post a couple new advanced reports a month.
  • You guys love affiliate marketing and Amazon posts which makes sense as most of you are affiliates and mostly for Amazon. We need more posts on Amazon marketing as they are few and far between
  • The most popular posts by social shares aren't necessarily the most popular posts by traffic or what you're most interested in.BuzzSumo shows that the 2 most popular posts by social shares are expert round up posts featuring tons of experts who naturally share with their own audiences skewing the numbers – these aren't necessarily the favourite posts on the site.
  • Some of the earlier posts are still the most popular, for example profitable niches for affiliate marketing was one of the earliest posts as was $100 to $100K Amazon Products.I didn't personally think either of them was a very strong post compared to some of the more recent content but they have stood the test of time.

 

Recommended Reading:

8 Content Marketing Lies Fake Gurus Love To Tell: http://nichehacks.com/content-marketing-lies/

The Best Damn List of Content Marketing Tools Ever: http://nichehacks.com/best-content-marketing-tools/

The No Bullshit SEO Guide For Content Marketers: http://nichehacks.com/seo-for-content-marketers/

How To Create Content In A Niche You Know Nothing About: http://nichehacks.com/create-content-niche-know-nothing/

 

  • PROGRESS AND GROWTH REPORT: EMAIL LIST

Subscribers:

19,134 subscribers *

* Not really how many subscribers we have as we have multiple lists for multiple different lead magnets and you can join as many as you like. Most people will be on more than 1 list.

Plus we store our buyers on a static “buyers list” and have one for each product as well as being on the broadcast or lead magnet lists.

So people end up being on multiple broadcast, follow up, and buyers lists at once meaning the number is massively skewed.

Optin Rate

I used to obsess over my optin rate and do everything I could to increase it.

At one point I had it as high as 12% which for a blog is incredibly high as the average is 2-5% according to most studies.

But often that comes at the expense of user experience as there ends up being endless pop ups and optins everywhere.

Even now the pop ups can be slightly aggressive.

But I've actually stopped tracking this for 2 reasons:

It's a vanity metric. Getting a high conversion rate isn't necessarily a GOOD thing what you want is the RIGHT SUBSCRIBERS not just anyone.

You only want people super interested in what you have to say and who are likely to buy your products otherwise they are just COSTING you money (the more subscribers you have the more you pay).

And...

As I now has segmented lists for all the different categories / lead magnets on the site Aweber doesn't give me easy to find data that I can use to work out the overall subscribe rate.

I'd have to go in and manually trawl through it wasting a lot of time and I just don't think it's important.

So I've no idea what the current optin rate is and it doesn't matter as all that you need to focus on is your bottom line, it's the only thing that matters.

Email open and click rates

I can't track this easily any more as now have multiple different lists and Aweber doesn't show you an average across all lists just check for single lists.

I've actually stopped paying attention to it anyway. I care only about conversions / sales so who opened / clicked means little, they are just vanity metrics.

So again this is something I'm not focusing much on anymore.

 

Lessons to be learned

  • Don't focus on growing your list for growth sake. Focus on getting only the right, highly targeted, people on your list as a subscriber who isn't really interested or more importantly doesn't buy is a useless subscriber that costs you money.

 

  • Segment your email list by interest / lead magnet / product not one list for all. It helps you target your content and marketing messages to them.

 

  • If you have a list filled with Amazon affiliates you know they'll all likely be interested in a new Amazon plugin...the same might not be said for guys who've shown interest in SEO or blogging.

 

  • Don't focus on open and click rates but instead of conversions. It's not about getting the most people to click in 99% of them don't do anything after the click. You want people to click who'll take the right action (e.g. BUY). Open and click rate is just a vanity metric the only thing that matters is your bottom line.

 

Recommended Reading

How To Increase Your Niche Site Earnings By 83% Using This Opt In Strategy: http://nichehacks.com/niche-email-signups-lead-magnets/

The Best List of Email Marketing Tools: 128 of Them: http://nichehacks.com/best-email-marketing-tools/

How To Choose The Right Email Marketing Tool: http://nichehacks.com/email-getresponse-mailchimp-aweber/

Increase Your Email List With 3 Proven Hacks: http://nichehacks.com/content-promotion-hacks/

34 Ways To Increase Your Email List: http://nichehacks.com/increase-email-list/

15 Irresistible Email Incentives To Grow Your Email List: http://nichehacks.com/email-list-freebie/

 

  • PROGRESS & GROWTH REPORT: NEW SUPPORTERS OF THE SITE

One of the biggest achievements in 2015 was being featured on Entrepreneur.com thanks to Thomas Smales post on Niche Marketing.

See it here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244808

NicheHacks was also featured on other great blogs like:

Matthew Woodward: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/stuart-walker-vs-matthew-woodward/
Ahrefs: https://ahrefs.com/blog/white-hat-link-building-expert-roundup/
Optin Monster: https://optinmonster.com/email-subject-lines-secrets/
HubSpot: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blog-strategy-guide
EmpireFlippers: https://empireflippers.com/buy-a-web-site-expert-tips/
BoostBlogTraffic: http://boostblogtraffic.com/traffic-resources/

Thanks to everyone who featured and linked to us.

 

  • PROGRESS & GROWTH REPORT: INCOME

Overall breakdown for 2015 of income / profit / expenses:

  • Income: £80,526.66 / $119,519.59
  • Expense: £24,789.27 / $36,789.87
  • Profit: £55,737.39 / $82,711.23 (before tax)

How the blog makes money:

  • Promoting affiliate launches of digital products
  • Selling my own digital products
  • My membership site

Breakdown of affiliate sales / product / membership (roughly) in 2015:

  • Affiliate commission: 50%
  • Digital products: 30%
  • Members: 20%

Compared to 2014:

  • Affiliate: 61.99%
  • Digital products: 24%
  • Membership: 6.22%
  • After Offers: 7%

Difference:

  • Affiliate: -11.99%
  • Digital products: +6%
  • Members: +12.88%
  • After Offers: -7% (removed from blog)

Things have moved in the right direction.

I'm less reliant on affiliate commission than I was but only by 10% less.

My digital product sales are up by 6% which is OK but not great considering I created sales funnels for them half way through the year which I expected to have increased sales by a lot.

The biggest jump was in the membership site which is up by 12.88% and brings in monthly recurring income.

Still not incredible though considering I also built sales funnels for them and promoted the site much more often.

As you can see affiliate income still accounts for 50% of my income which is a problem.

Almost all of this is from supporting product launches which is unpredictable as launches don't always go to plan for you.

You're reliant on someone else to get the launch right and not have technical or other problems out with your control.

One big launch I committed to by a respected vendor was delayed and then cancelled last minute after I'd spent 2 days working on a promo, writing emails, and creating bonuses.

Nothing I could do.

I want to move towards the money flowing on auto-pilot from paid traffic, and sales funnels with my own products (or at least an evergreen affiliate offer).

This is the only truly passive, automated, way to make income. And that's the dream, right?

 

Lessons Learned

Never be totally reliant on product launches, either your own or affiliate products, to make money as they just aren't a sustainable way to make money and you have little control.

They require ongoing work every month just to make profit. You can do them but see them as bonus cash and have income coming in from evergreen products (again your own or affiliate) and built in sales funnels.

Your own products can be a great source of revenue. Make sure you have them plugged into sales funnels so that as soon as anyone visits your blog and opts in they are automatically shown a relevant product and then continued to be shown it over the coming weeks / months.

A recurring income model like a membership site is a great way to increase your income month on month and keep getting a pay rise. Find a way to turn your products into a recurring monthly income model.

Your goal with an online business is to create PASSIVE and automated income. Otherwise if you're doing work every month to make your money you simply have a JOB.

So make sure you build out sales funnels and have your audience automatically being exposed to your products over and over again.

 

Recommended reading:

How To Turn Your Niche Site Into An Automated Income Whilst Working Less: http://nichehacks.com/niche-sales-funnels/

How To Increase Your Niche Site Earnings By 83% Using This Opt In Strategy: http://nichehacks.com/niche-email-signups-lead-magnets/

34 Lessons Learned From Running Niche Hacks For 18 Months: http://nichehacks.com/34-lessons-learned-from-running-nichehacks-for-18-months/

15 Irresistible Email Incentives To Grow Your Email List: http://nichehacks.com/email-list-freebie/

How To Win Affiliate Contests: http://nichehacks.com/how-to-write-emails-that-win-affiliate-competitions/

The Ultimate Guide To Digital Content Creation: http://nichehacks.com/digital-product-creation/

 

What's Going On In Personal Life

Here's some of what's been going on in my personal life...

 

Homeward Bound

I went home to the UK for a couple of months.

After another 9 month stint in Thailand I was feeling a bit bored and took the opportunity to go home and enjoy the British 'summer'.

It was nice to see family and friends and enjoy 'warm' afternoons in beer gardens and BBQs.

Though soon as it started to get dark and cold I knew it was time to leave.

Took One Month Off (and then some more)

My 2 weeks off work whilst travelling turned into 1 month off work and then even after that I've no really got back into work in December and now it's Christmas / NY and I won't be back at it fully until mid January most likely.

For the month of November I didn't spend more than 30 minutes a day online and only to do really essential duties like refunds.

In December I spent no more than a couple hours a day online working.

And everything has been fine. My team have handled everything and nothing went wrong.

November was even the most profitable month the blog had thanks to the big launch of Niche Profit Classroom Full Control which was a perfect fit for most of you.

It's good to know you can take time off and your business still runs without you – that is after all what a business is supposed to be like, isn't it?

The boss should work ON his business and not IN it and be able to take time away and things still keep running and making money.

If you're having to work every day and continually doing new activities to make money month on month your business is set up wrong.

What's Next?

I see me heading to Mexico or Brazil next year at some point. Brazil is great and I've never been to Mexico and I've always wanted to.

It'll be a new adventure.

 

Lessons Learned:

From taking a step back and some time off I've learned that NicheHacks can largely run it's self even if I'm not online so often thanks to my wonderful team (thanks Nader, James, Jawad and Chelsea and the others working behind the scenes), the processes I have in place and the funnels.

I need to spend less time messing around online and more time doing productive stuff or just not be online at all.

What's the point in sitting messing around on a computer thinking about working but not doing anything worthwhile at all?

Better off doing something else – fitness, reading, learning, self improvement, socializing.

I spend FAR too much time online. It's like a crux whenever I don't know what to do or am slightly bored – just go online and mess around.

Far too much of that time I spent online is unproductive time. Rescue Time shows I'm wasting a great deal of time on email, Facebook and other things that aren't that important.

Sometimes stepping back can give you a fresh perspective and see things more clearly again.

My business, a year on, still isn't set up the way I want it to be.

Affiliate launches are still crucial for my income despite being slightly less so than a year ago.

I need to be able to not do any sort of promotion and still make a stable and good income.

 

Aims For 2016:

Get round to making this high end, A to Z, course I've been thinking about for ages.

OR more likely just promote Niche Profit Full Control as an affiliate as this is a complete, high quality course that is a really good fit for you as a NicheHacks tribe member.

It depends on whether it's going to be evergreen and constantly on sale or not which I'm still waiting on confirmation of.

If it is I'll probably go with this as they've spent so much time and money on it and it's quite honestly much better than anything I could put out right now.

 

Make more NicheHacks success stories.

I want to see more people succeed and I know they will.

Every week someone is sharing their success in the FB group whether it's finally making their first sale, having a record breaking income month or quitting their day job to do IM full time. Let's see more of you do the same.

 

Restructure NicheHacks so it's built like a business should be.

From the back to the front which fits in nicely with the point both above and below.

Make sure that EVERYTHING we do on NicheHacks from content, to social media, to traffic, to landing pages and more is pushing people towards that end goal. Each piece of content must have a purpose within the wider picture.

 

More automation, outsourcing and templatizing.

I want to just oversee almost everything and have things running without me needing to be working hard or creating promos.

 

Finally crack that £10,000 / $15,000 per month income from the blog

And on a consistent month by month basis.

Not one offs because there was a good affiliate promotion but it all happening on near auto-pilot because of the sales funnels and processes I have in place.

 

Reduce my reliance on affiliate launch income.

I don't mind making money from affiliate marketing but when reliant on launches it's not sustainable. I'll look to create content and funnels built around evergreen products, tools, courses and webinars.

 

Finally get my paid traffic campaigns up and running.

Currently they aren't running at all and I don't even have any active traffic generation strategies going.

No content promotion or even an SEO strategy.

Things are just kind of ticking along and growing slowly. That's unsustainable.So I will have to create a paid traffic, SEO, and social media strategy and have someone (or perhaps a team of people) working on it.

I planned to hire the Viral Content Manager some time ago but never got round to it...maybe now is the time.

 

Not a major one but re-design the blog and get Thrive Themes up and running.

It's clearly a much superior and powerful theme to the one I have at the moment which looks a bit outdated and lacks in a lot of features.

 

Launch some of the many other business ideas I have.

I have endless ideas but have felt like I have never had time to focus on them.

I struggle to focus on more than 1 thing at a time and NicheHacks has had my full attention for the past 2 years

But I think now will be a good time to try something new because I have a team in place, will outsource more in 2016, and automate everything I can.

Don't worry I won't abandon NicheHacks though.

 

Conclusions

So that's it...2 years in a nutshell.

From a one man blog where I did all the work to a multi-team blog that partially runs without much work from me.

A blog that started out with it's aim to show people HOW to find profitable niches and has turned into a blog that not only does that BUT reveals profitable niches and shows you how to profit from them.

As you've clearly seen not everything about NH is perfect...in fact far from it.

My goals have not been met in many instances...

The automation and sales funnels aren't quite there yet

The traffic levels aren't nearly where they should be (simply because I didn't keep up with the traffic generation strategies).

And I haven't quite consistently cracked the income levels that I'd hoped.

But I believe that can be turned around in 2016.

 

Final Words

Thanks for reading this because without YOU there is no NicheHacks.

You've been a loyal supporter of the blog and you provide feedback, advice, and insights that I can use to make the site better.

As a customer you directly contribute to my income and allow me to live a lifestyle I enjoy.

A lifestyle I hope we can all enjoy one day....

...if that's what you want of course.

The aim from day 1 with NicheHacks was for everyone to have more freedom and the choice to do whatever they wanted with their time on a day to day basis.

Some people have already achieved that thanks to niches we've revealed on NicheHacks or advice we've given.

Others have succeeded thanks to products I've recommended as an affiliate.

Many others are on the way and many will follow them in 2016.

If you haven't made your dreams a reality yet then NOW is the time to make it happen.

Everything you ever need to succeed is available on NicheHacks from the profitable niche ideas, to the business models, to traffic generation, how to make money, SEO, email marketing and much much more.

But whilst we are here to help we can't do it for you. You have to take that information and make it work for you.

So whatever it is that you want from online marketing let's make it happen in 2016!

NicheHacks
To date, Stuart has revealed well over 1,500 hot niches.

He's living his dream of being location independent, and having traveled the world, thanks to internet marketing.

The aim with Niche Hacks is to help you live your dream thanks to online marketing, whatever that may be.
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Comments (14)

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  1. Tom Hunt says:

    Stuart,

    Thanks for dropping this comprehensive and quite lengthy report. I do LOVE the "lessons learned" parts there and the conclusions as well.

    I am on the same journey with you, but on my end...my business is more directed to helping other businesses (mostly startups), achieve their goals through OUTSOURCING.

    Would ABSOLUTELY love to hear from you!
    Tom

  2. Dom Wells says:

    Congrats mate, it's been great watching NH grow and getting to know you more. I really like the approach you had in this article, will do something similar for HPD. I learned a lot from NH over these two years, and especially this article!

  3. Peter Tratt says:

    That's a terrific warts n' all end of year report, and just goes to show what can be achieved with the right and consistent approach, thanks for sharing.

  4. Zac Johnson says:

    Awesome write up and great to see the continued success. I attempted to outsource my content outreach as well, and it's definitely something with mixed results. Saw a massive difference between myself working on this and someone else.

    Here's to a massively successful 2016!

  5. Kristi Hines says:

    Happy Birthday Niche Hacks! 🙂

  6. Thanks for the detailed progress report, Stuart.

    I started marketever a couple of months, getting a decent number of page views but failed to monetize. I'm inspired seeing your progress, and my goal for 2016 will be to grow my blog, and monetize properly.

    Congratulations, BTW 🙂

  7. Happy Anniversary to NicheHacks! 🙂

    I think you have done a wonderful job with this blog man!

    I really love everything that you and your team has been sharing, so far.

    I definitely learned a lot this year from this blog. I highly recommend it to the newbies online and even experienced online marketers - the knowledge is just limitless! 😉

    Thank you for sharing everything here - it is a beautiful thing to see very transparent bloggers like you.

    Congratulations on all of the success so far, and I wish you the best of the best on 2016!! 😀

    Cheers!!

  8. Yasser says:

    This is quite a remarkable story, Congratulations,

    I have been trying to turn my idea into a niche and faced some confusion, and then I found you a couple of weeks ago, quite an interesting and valuable resource.

    Bravo

  9. Hi Stuart,

    Congrats! I hope your blog get more success in 2016.
    Anyway, I am quite curious, do you have other affiliate blogs (or maybe niche sites) beside niche hacks ?
    or you only make money through niche hacks ?

    • NicheHacks says:

      NH has been my main focus for the past 2 years but also have other projects in various states of neglect. Some doing OK others not so OK.