Progress & Growth Report Q1 2015

Filed in Case Studies, Progress Reports by on April 5, 2015

progress & growthSince the first quarter of 2015 has passed I thought it was about time for a progress update.

The last one was in December after NicheHacks turned 1 years old so now seems like a good time to do another

I'd also set my self some goals for each quarter of this year so it will be interesting to see if they have been achieved.

 

 

Aims For First Quarter of 2015:

Below is what  I hoped to achieve by now and I'll reveal at the end of the report whether I did or not:

  • To take profit generated from the blog to $7,500p/m
  • To sell more high end products and training
  • Sign up at least 10 new members p/m to the membership site
  • Explore new monetization streams
  • Grow traffic to 50,000+ per month with a big focus on paid traffic
  • More networking with bloggers, product creators and other marketers
  • A guest post campaign to get myself published across the web
  • Hire a team of writers to write viral content, product reviews, expert round up posts and post more case studies
  • Hire someone to manage the day to day running of the blog
  • Lower bounce rate to closer to 50% from the 67% it was at
  • Re-design the blog with new theme, design, logo
  • Re-focus the blog to target a more specific audience.
  • Automate income by creating a sales funnel that runs on auto-pilot
  • Launch 3 new digital products.

How do you think I've done?

I'll tell you near the end of the post but keep reading for now...

 

Progress & Growth Report

So let's take a lot at how the blog is performing in the first quarter of 2015 and what you can learn from it...

 

Analytics Screenshot

 

The number in brackets show the change from the previous 3 month period for comparison purposes

  • Total traffic: 108,517 (+21.76%)
  • Unique visitors: 58,146 (+17.22%)
  • Page views: 238,746 (+37.53%)
  • Pages per session: 2.20 (+12.95%)
  • Average duration: 00:03:14 (+20.81%)
  • Bounce rate: 64.57% (-4.66%)
  • New visitors: 51.46% (-3.85%)
  • Number of posts published: 36 (published same number of posts in previous period)
  • Email subscribers: 7,298 (+83.09%)

Everything is moving in the right direction (traffic, page views, email subscribers duration on site etc is up and bounce rate is down) except number of new visitors which has dropped by 3.58%

I currently don't actively do much to promote the site (bar featuring and linking to other bloggers and experts in posts and I've just started using FB ads) and haven't for more than 6 months so that shouldn't be a major surprise that new visitors isn't increasing but I was actually a little surprised at that.

Most of my traffic is coming from my email list, referrals from other blogs and Google so the blog referrals and search traffic should be bringing in new visitors.

 

Traffic

February 22nd seems to have been the busiest day of traffic yet at 1,768 visitors. Yet the analytics don't seem to show any clear reason for why that was.

The bulk of the traffic (732 visitors) came directly (which includes my email traffic) and another 652 from Google.

There were no broadcast emails sent out that day looks like it was just a coincidence.

 

Where's The Traffic Coming From:

traffic sources

 

 

Despite not doing any keyword research for posts, paying very little attention to on page SEO and not building any links Google is sending the bulk of my traffic (47.25% of it in fact!)

That is actually a little scary as you'll constantly hear me say not to be reliant on Google for traffic and not chase it. I certainly don't chase it but the site is very reliant on it clearly.

If it vanished it wouldn't be the end of the world as I still have my email list and referral traffic but it could have negative effects on the site.

Direct traffic makes up 27.62%. Direct is people who know your website URL (regular visitors) and type it directly into the URL or have it bookmarked.

It also includes email traffic from my subscriber list as Google Analytics doesn't track that correctly unless you set it up, something which I've failed to do in the 15 months the blogs been online, shocking really.

I'd say at least 20% of that 27.62% comes straight from emails.

AfterOffers brings in 8.70% but that number should be ignored as they aren't really sending me traffic.

AO is a way to make money from your subscribers by offering them to join other peoples lists after they've subscribed to yours. So if someone joins my list, they are taken to the AfterOffers page, and then re-directed back to my site counting AfterOffers as a refferer.

Matthew Woodward is still sending me a decent chunk of traffic every month after my guest post on how I made him look stupid on his own blog. 😉

A link from BoostBlogTraffic from Philip Kleudgen who has guest posted on NicheHacks previously brought in some nice traffic too.

Facebook is also bringing in over 3,000 visitors per month across the different sources.

 

Changes From Last Period:

Not much has changed in terms of traffic sources from when we last did a progress report.

Google, direct traffic, my email list and Facebook were all bringing in similar traffic levels.

The major change is that Warrior Forum is no longer in the top 10. It was #4 previously and accounted for 2.50% of my total traffic.

I used to me a major contributor on that forum but stopped posting when they temp banned me for “spamming” because I linked to my own site in a few of the thousands of great posts I posted.

Blackhatworld also used to bring in around 0.5% of my overall traffic even though I never posted there but it's no longer in the top 10 sources.

Twitter has significantly dropped off too probably because I rarely go on it preferring to use Facebook to interact with people and finding it gives better results too.

 

Lessons to be learned:

  • You need an email list. Look at how much traffic it's bringing me month on month on near auto-pilot. You can tap into that traffic at ANY time. Build your list now.
  • Accepting guest posts from other bloggers is an easy way to pick up good links and traffic further down the line when they guest post on other blogs and link back to the post.
  • Diversify your traffic so that you're not reliant on one source. If I was solely reliant on Google (which are sending a big bulk of my traffic) and suddenly an algorithm change wiped out my rankings I'd be in a bad situation.

 

Content

In the last progress report I talked about how I'd been burnt out writing content and had stopped writing and instead hired a team of writers.

Well since the last progress report I've not written any content and don't see me getting back into it too frequently (though I will be sharing some good case studies soon) as it's not my strongest skill nor a good use of my time.

Writing content takes a lot of time and it's easy to become burnt out or end up writing the same posts over and over again.

And I think the content has went up a notch now we have a team of talented writers and marketers cranking out regular content for us every week...don't you?

Here's the most trafficked content on the blog....

 

Content Screenshot

 

Since the last progress report very little has changed. With only 5 Ways To Create A Profitable Affiliate Site coming into the top 10 and edging out 101 Resources To Discover A Hot Niche Market.

Here's the most shared content on the blog...

I entered the site into BuzzSumo to see what content had the most social shares and these are showing to be the most popular content over the past 6 months

 

buzzsumo

 

All posts by my paid writers or guest posts from other bloggers.

None of them went viral by accident.

With my writers we have been using a strategy, made famous by Brian Dean coined the “Skyscraper Technique”, where we source out popular topics that have already went viral (using BuzzSumo or content sharing sites like Inbound & Growth Hackers).

Then we create something bigger, better and more beautiful.

So we know we are already creating a topic that people love and want to share.

We just need to get it out there and get peoples eyes on it.

Stupidly I've been pretty lax on the outreach and promo side of things so these posts could have been generated much more social shares if I had a solid outreach and promo strategy in place.

How To Build A Viral Blog In Any Niche was a guest post by Phillip Kleudgen and he uses the very same “skyscraper technique” when he creates posts to create viral topics and outreach to promote them.

Why create content you THINK people may like? Why sitting around HOPING the content you've just created will be popular?

Just find what's already worked and do it better.

 

Lessons To Be Learned:

  • If you can afford a team of experienced writers then hire them – it frees up so much more time for you to focus on growing your blog and list and generating income from it – writing blog posts themselves don't bring in income.
  • Find guest posters who can help you with awesome content and will work hard to promote it giving you the double bonus of great content and lots of traffic.
  • The Skyscraper technique for creating viral content flat out works – use it.

 

Email List Growth

Total subscribers: 7,298
Opt in conversion rate: 7.80% (-28.96%)

Subscribers are growing month on month though possibly not as quickly as you might think with the traffic levels I have and the opt in rate (which until recently was over 10%).

The reason for this is when you factor in unsubscribes and the fact that I clean my list aggressively every month to clean out anyone who's not responsive I can easily wipe out a few hundred subscribers every month.

I don't see the point in paying for dead wood subscribers who aren't engaged as all they do is drag down open and click rates anyway.

And my opt in rate has decreased by 28.96%. Now this sounds bad but actually it's a good thing.

I was so focused on email opt ins in the past that I put it ahead of everything including user experience.

I had pop ups and optins everywhere taking over the whole screen and it was p*ssing people off.

Bounce rate was sky high, time spent on site and pages visit was low. So whilst I was getting opt ins I was also driving new visitors away from the site in droves.

So I calmed down the the opt ins. Removed some forms. And showed them less frequently.

Bounce rate is slowly improving and time spent on site and pages per visit and growing steady.

I think it gives a better overall experience for everyone and email open and click rates are up, unsubscribe and complaints down and earnings per subscriber up so it's all good.

 

Email Open & Click Rates

Until recently open and click rates of emails were dropping month on month.

It's normal that when your list grows these drop but it was getting to worrying levels.

So I've taken drastic action to test and track EVERYTHING I'm doing in email and do more of what works.

Despite the fact I constantly bang on about how important it is to track and test everything I'd actually stopped doing it with my emails or I'd start testing things but not follow through or record the results, stupid and a waste of time.

So for the past 6 or 7 weeks I've been meticulous about it.

I've increased open rate by 2.78% on average simply by adding the words [Fresh Content] to the end of emails that have a notification about new blog posts in them.

By making emails look like a mini blog post with headline, body text and then asking the reader to “continue reading” to get the full post I've increased click through rate on average by 2.15%.

 

blog style email

 

I'm still testing the exact best layout and text for the best results so it will likely increase.

The reason this likely is so effective is that humans feel the need to finish off what they've started and get the conclusion or complete the action, it's known as the “Zeigarnik Effect”.

It's why “cliffhangers” work in movies and tv shows so well.

I first heard about it on Giles Thomas blog and noticed him using it in his emails so I stole it and started using it myself.

Now these numbers might seem small but a 2% increase when you've got over 7,000 subscribers on your list and email 3-4 times a week can really add up.

And if you keep doing tests like this and continually add 2% to open and click rates before you know it you can have doubled them and your profits.

 

Lessons To Be Learned:

  • Track and test EVERYTHING otherwise you're just guessing and marketers don't guess we do things based on facts and data or we shouldn't bother doing them at all.
  • Try new things and see what works. Don't just follow so called “best practices” as often doing something unconventional can bring shocking results (in a good way)
  • Focus 100% on growing your list but not at the expense of user experience and new visitors. If you scare everyone away because of overwhelming pop ups on their first visit then no one is going to join your list.
  • Bigger lists aren't always better. My opt in conversion rate is down but open and clicks are up, complaint rates and unsubscribes down yet my earnings from email are bigger than ever.
  • Use [Fresh Content] at the end of your headlines when sending emails about blog posts and use anchor text like “Continue reading” as humans are pshycologially programmed to “close the loop”,

 

New Links & Supporters Of The Site

Since last time we've picked up some nice new links and traffic from new supporters of the site...

  • BoostBlogTraffic sent 518 visitors and gave me a juicy link thanks to Philip's guest post
  • Terry Kyle who says NicheHacks is “the best optimized blog on the planet” linked to me from his Email Marketing Academy sending over 500 visitors too.
  • Being featured on FEInternational (and getting top 5 votes for best advice which means soon to be on Entrepreneur.com) by Thomas brought in 347 new visitors.
  • A nice link from HubSpot brought in just short of 200 visitors.

And not to forget the people who have been supporting me since the beginning...

 

Income

This is something I'm always hesitant about posting. I don't like talking about income with anyone.

Even most of my friends and family have no idea how much I make so posting it to the world seems scary.

But I feel like I should at least talk about it seeing as you guys are the ones who pay my bills and support the site.

I mentioned in the last progress report about how for the first 6 months of being live the blog made no profit and just broke even after the 6 month period.

Since then the blog has made profit month on month but to varying degrees. There's been good and bad months.

Last December for example which everyone tells you should be a great month to have an online business was pretty poor for NicheHacks.

Then January which is by all accounts a terrible month for most people was actually really good for us.

Then it dipped in February again being one of the worst months to date since the blog started turning a profit (but this was mostly due to promoting products in market places where I'm not yet an established affiliate and working with new vendors so being on delayed payments)

Followed by March being the most profitable month the blog has had to date.

Here's the break down:

January 2015:

  • Expenses: $2,057
  • Earnings: $8,702
  • Profit: $6,645

 

February 2015:

  • Expenses: $2,556
  • Earnings: $5,131
  • Profit: $2,575

 

March 2015:

  • Expenses: $4,687
  • Earnings: $14,517
  • Profit: $9,830

 

TOTAL PROFT FOR 2015: $19,050
AVERAGE MONTHLY PROFIT: $6,350

 

So on average the blog is making $6,350 which is actually LESS than the average back in December when we did the last report.

Back then it was at $6,383!

The reason as you can see my monthly expenses are growing rapidly.

This is because I've a full team of content writers, 6 freelancers doing the research and report writing for the niche reports, outsource all design and graphic work and have all the usual costs such as hosting, domain, business email account, tools ans software, premium plugins and so on.

This past month I also bought a new theme, some more premium plugins and spent a few hundred dollars on a logo (none of which I've been able to actually use yet!)

If you want to run a blog other than for a hobby or do everything by yourself it is NOT cheap.

To begin with you will want to do most of the work yourself if on a budget but over time the only way to grow is to start outsourcing and hiring staff.

Whilst income isn't growing as much as I would have liked I do now have more free time now I'm not cranking out content and trying to do everything myself which is such a time killer.

 

How The Blog Makes Money

Nearly all the income is generated from the email list through affiliate product recommendations.

There's very little on the blog that generates income and very few posts have anyway to be monetized with just the occasional affiliate link in them.

 

Current income:

  • Affiliate Marketing – 92%
  • After Offers - 8%

I've mostly been focusing on training webinars and high end products than the $7 info-products (though there are still some good ones that I've been happy to recommend)

Going back to the last progress report in December these numbers were a bit different...

  • Affiliate Sales – 61.99%
  • Info-products Sales (my own) – 24%
  • Membership Sales – 6.22%
  • AfterOffers – 7.79%

On January 1st the EU introduced the new digital tax law stating that digital sellers had to charge all EU customers tax on the rate of the buyers home country creating a load of unnecessary paperwork and headaches.

So I took my products offline including the membership site, initially thinking just for a week or so to decide what I was doing, and I never got round to putting them back online yet.

Quite ridiculous effort on my part really.

Had planned a re-launch again last month but everything wasn't ready in time (due to lack of action on my part) so I've had to delay it again.

Digital products sale and membership site sign ups were accounting for about 30% of my income at that time so could have meant an extra 30% on top of my current income if they were still online.

I need to get them back up ASAP!

 

My Flawed Business Model

This is something I've felt for a while and was on track to change it until the EU Digital tax law caught me out.

My current business model is flawed.

It's not sustainable to promote product launches as an affiliate month after month.

You're reliant on factors which you just cannot control.

Let's say 1 month there was one or more of these factors present...

  • No good products to promote
  • You promote the same launch as 50 other “super affiliates” and “gurus” and you're outsold and can't land on the leader board missing out on bonus cash prizes
  • The sales page of the product you're using doesn't convert
  • The product vendor f*cks everyone over who buys his product and your audience never trust you again
  • The product vendor goes rogue and doesn't pay your commissions (not likely if working with trusted vendors and market places but not impossible)

Then you'd find yourself with no income.

And on top of that if you decide to take a month away from your business and not do any work then you're also in trouble.

This model is reliant on you to continually be promoting new products every month to make commissions.

If you don't promote you don't get paid which means you can't take any time away from the business to travel or chill out.

This is not the type of business you want.

The solution is to have your own digital products, traffic constantly flowing to them (through affiliates or paid) , a sales funnel in place that takes your customers from one offer to the next and a membership or other recurring income model so that you get paid on auto-pilot every month and your income grows and grows without any additional work.

I don't have that here on NicheHacks. Not even close.

It needs to be remedied ASAP.

Affiliate commissions (and the bonuses that come with them from landing on launch competitions) is fantastic but I feel that it should be considered bonus income and not your main source.

My plan going forward will be to have digital products and sales funnels in place that all lead to my membership site.

Using a mix of paid traffic, my email list and affiliates it will run on auto-pilot and I don't have to worry about finding new products to promote every month or what will happen to my business if I take time off.

 

Lessons To Be Learned:

  • Don't be afraid to spend money on your business especially on hiring talented people as it will help you grow faster and free up more time.
  • Don't be reliant on 1 income stream, diversify so if there's any issue with 1 of those you're not left broke.
  • Affiliate marketing is a great business model, and you should use it, but don't be 100% reliant on product launches every month for your income because should you not be able to promote 1 month or need to take time out your income will dry up.
  • Create your own products and have a sales funnel in place that runs on auto-pilot so you aren't reliant on factors you can't control.
  • Recurring monthly income is a great passive earner and grows month on month so get a membership site up and running ASAP.
  • It takes time for a blog to start generating income and won't happen overnight, probably not even in the first few months, but when it gets started you can make a good (but realistic) income from it.

 

Did I Achieve My Aims?

  • To take profit generated from the blog to $7,500p/m – YES!
  • To sell more high end products and training – YES!
  • Sign up at least 10 new members to the membership site – NO!
  • Explore new monetization streams – NO!
  • Grow traffic to 50,000+ per month – NO!
  • Start paid traffic – YES!
  • More networking with bloggers, product creators and other marketers – NO!
  • A guest post campaign to get myself published across the web – NO!
  • Convert traffic into email subscribers at around 20% - NO!
  • Hire a team of writers to write viral content, product reviews, expert round up posts and post more case studies – YES!
  • Hire someone to manage the day to day running of the blog – NO!
  • Lower bounce rate to closer to 50% from the 67% it was at – NO!
  • Re-design the blog with new theme, design, logo – SORT OF!
  • Re-focus the blog to target a more specific audience. - NO!
  • Automate income by creating a sales funnel that runs on auto-pilot – NO!
  • Launch 3 new digital products. - NO!

As you can see from above I failed pretty miserably at meeting my goals for the first quarter.

Only 4 out of 15 objectives were achieved.

With another 1 “sort of” achieved (the re-design IS done but there's been a problem with the Theme and the developers are working to fix).

This is a bit of a wake up call really. I set a reminder in my Google Calendar to check on my “goals for 2015” checklist every week but most of the time I ignored it thinking “it's ages away” and suddenly the time is here and I've done terribly.

 

Profit From The Blog To $7,500 per Month

Last month I did hit the $7.5K profit target but I'm actually not convinced it was because of strategic planning more just pot luck.

I won 2 affiliate competitions for a total of $6K prize money and that's not guaranteed income – if I hadn't my income would be much lower and I wouldn't have met this goal either.

The only way I'm going to be able to “guarantee” my income is if I get a solid sales funnel in place with my own digital products and membership site and start generating paid traffic.

 

To Sell More High End Products & Training

I achieved this one!

I've been arranging lots of training webinars and coaching programs over the past 3 months as I feel not only do these pay better they offer better value to you than a $7 product.

The biggest problem most people face is lack of motivation, lack of accountability and not knowing what steps to take.

High end training and coaching usually takes you step by step so it's a win win for everyone.

I do still recommend $7 products which I've used and benefited from though.

 

Sign Up At Least 10 New Members Per Month To Members Area

The membership site isn't even back online yet (took it down end of last year for the new EU digital tax law and haven't put it back up – expect a re-launch next month)

So no chance of achieving this.

 

Explore New Monetization Streams

I was hoping to try out some new ways to generate income such as coaching, kindle, high end courses of my own, monthly premium newsletter and more.

Didn't even spare it a thought.

 

Grow Traffic To 50,000+ A Month

Traffic actually dropped in February for the first month ever (but picked back up last month) for an unknown reason, was unable to draw any conclusions.

Last month we had 39,904 visitors come to NicheHacks so that's over 10K short and I'm not surprised as I did very little to generate any.

Posting new content to the blog was even down a bit this past month due to planning to change themes so surprised it even grew.

None of my traffic strategies were implemented – paid, more outreach, more networking needed.

 

Focus on Paid Traffic

I did start using paid traffic but only around 2 weeks ago.

I've been playing around with FB Ads mostly re targeting visitors who landed on my site to try and get them back.

It's been a pretty dismal effort so was with pathetic 0.393% conversion rates even on warmed up visitors...

 

fb ads

 

I'm nowhere close to being able to use it to generate significant traffic for the blog or automate things.

 

Network With Other Marketers & Bloggers

Was great at this when the blog first launched. Terrible now.

Aside from a few emails or tweets exchanged with someone who's linked to me or shared my content (or vice versa) there's been little networking or outreach.

I want to get out there and get NicheHacks known and I have a good strategy in mine that GIVES first and then (maybe) asks later.

I'm going to give each blogger / marketer I get in touch with a custom gift that their subscribers will find useful and it's not even going to be time-consuming to create.

 

Guest Posting Campaign

Guest posting is a fantastic way to get traffic, quality links, build your brand and authority and network with others.

Yet aside from my 1, accidental, guest post I haven't done it.

I've got a team of writers so I could easily outsource the writing and have it ghost written so why I haven't I don't know.

 

Convert Website Traffic Into Email Subscribers At 20%

I haven't achieved this and I'm currently not trying to.

This was touched on earlier – my opt in rate was high but at expense of the user experience.

People were being driven away due to too many pop ups and opt in boxes everywhere.

Bounce rate was sky high and time spent on site low.

So I removed many opt ins, limited the amount of pop ups and user engagement has increase despite opt in rate lowering and that's fine with me for now.

To get the blog converting at 20% I'd likely have to go overkill with the opt ins.

 

Hire A Team of Writers

Yep, sure did!

Got a regular team now cranking out quality content every month.

We've got viral posts, product reviews, case studies and expert round ups.

And I think you agree the content on the blog has went up a notch, hasn't it?

 

Hire Someone To Manage The Blog

Well I did hire someone. A Filipino girl from Odesk...then I changed my mind.

I felt like it was going to take so long to get her to understand my brand and what I was trying to achieve as well as get her up to speed with some of the tools I use and so on that it wasn't going to be effective.

Plus the most time consuming things are things I can't really outsource like the networking with other marketers, engaging with my audience, writing promotional emails to make affiliate sales and so on.

So there wasn't much she'd be left to do in the end other than schedule blog posts.

 

Lower Bounce Rate To Closer To 50%

I did lower bounce rate but not anywhere near 50%, it dropped from around 67% at it's peak to 64.5% currently.

Not massive but time spent on site and average page views are up which is great.

Getting to 50% will be a challenge and I'm not sure if it can be achieved (hoping the new theme, blog layout and logo will help).

I doubt I'll ever get to Matt Woodwards 8% though.

 

Re-Design Blog

It's been done. Great new theme, cool new logo, but then the theme was having an issue with the images I was using as blog thumbnails and they are currently working on fixing it.

So I've had to hold off for now.

 

Re-focus The Blog To More Specific Audience

I always talk about “niching down” so your audience is very focused around 1 very specific type of person with the same interests.

And I talked about in the last progress report about how I never wanted to just be another generic “internet marketing” blog that talked about anything and everything online marketing – my focus being on revealing niches.

And to an extent I did that with NicheHacks.

But at the same time people need to find “niches” for many different things from blogs, to products, to ecommerce, to kindle books and beyond.

These people all have very different needs and wants – different content and products that they need.

You can't cater to everyone so don't even try.

So I've been planning to make NicheHacks more focused and with more direction so that everyone who lands on my list is interested in the exact same things, wants the same content, needs the same products.

Think how much more relevant everything you do will be then?

Every email you send out will get high open and click rates and every product you recommend well sell well.

So far I haven't gotten very far on re-focusing NicheHacks. It needs to be a big priority.

 

Automate Income Through Sales Funnel & Traffic

Not even close. I've went backwards.

None of my products are online. My membership site is closed to new members.

There's no sales funnel. Nothing is on auto-pilot. I'm still manually having to create promotional emails to promote product launches every month.

Utter failure this one.

 

Launch Three New Digital Products

Launch them? Haven't even written any or made any plans for them.

Older ones aren't even online.

Missed a trick here. Really need to get everything sorted to be compliant with the digital tax and be done with it.

 

Aims For First Quarter 2015 Conclusion: TOTAL FAILURE!

 

Sure, so income is up from selling more high end products and that's great, my content team are hard at work and I've STARTED the paid traffic but aside from that I've not achieved any of the other goals I set myself.

Mainly because I never checked what they were on an ongoing basis and didn't hold myself accountable.

Every time a “big” task (like the aims above) popped up on my calendar reminding me to do it I moved it back a week because I was “busy” (procrastinating and putting things off because I'm lazy).

None of them ever got done.

Self motivation is vital when you're the boss and aside from doing the basics to keep things ticking over I haven't done most of the important tasks I set myself.

Don't fall into this trap. Set goals and aims, work out what you have to do to achieve them, make a plan and most importantly actually do what you need to.

 

Plans Going Forward For The Second Quarter

  • Double profit from blog – will need to work on my products and sales funnel
  • Get sales funnel in place – this is so important for the blogs future.
  • Automate traffic through paid methods – real business can pay for advertising.
  • Grow traffic to 50,000 and beyond – should be easy enough if I do some work.
  • Network more and guest post across the web (even if it is ghost written) – it will grow my brand and authority.
  • Hire someone to do the day to day running of the blog - this may be happening now actually as been talking to a NicheHacks tribe member about him doing it.
  • Lower bounce rate – work in progress
  • Re-focus the blog – this will be key to growth
  • Launch 2 new digital products, re-launch the flagship product and re-open the members site – expect this ASAP.
  • Let's just hope I do a better job this quarter than next eh?

 

Lessons To Be Learned:

  • If you're going to write aims – stick to them. Check them regularly and work out what you need to do to achieve them.
  • Don't put off the “big” tasks otherwise you'll never do them – set aside 2 days a week to work on them.
  • If you say you're going to do something then actually do it – you wanted to do it for a reason.
  • Break each aim down into what needs to be done to achieve it and then work out what task you'll do to get to the end goal as aims without a plan are meaningless.

 

Wrapping It Up

Well that's the end of the first quarter progress report for 2015.

Hope you enjoyed seeing how we've progressed so far this year and learned something worthwhile from my experience.

There will be another in around 3 months, see you then, 😉

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 (36)

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  1. Hey Stuart,

    thanks for mentioning me multiple times and giving us this detailed honest update.

  2. Marc says:

    Hi Stuart,
    Congrats on your continued growth! The fact that you have been able to maintain and improve profitability while continuing to outsource more work is impressive.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Thanks Marc for always supporting the site. I know I'm terrible at doing it back. I rarely find time to visit any other IM blogs these days.

  3. Richard says:

    I have to admit that this is one my favorite posts as of late; it's always fascinating to see "behind the scenes" of a successful blog like Niche Hacks. Looks to me like you're doing nicely so far 🙂

    I shall be very interested to hear how your email tracking experiments go in the future. Hopefully there'll be a blog post on this topic coming in the future...

  4. Kudos for the honesty, looks like things are progressing so stay positive.

    About your writers - how much do you pay them? Do you have a team of writers just for this blog or is it for other sites you manage?

  5. Liam says:

    Very detailed an honest post. Thank you for sharing, look forward to seeing if you can hopefully achieve your goals next quarter. Good luck.

  6. not sure if my last comment went through???

  7. Well done Stuart, what you've managed to accomplish in such a short time is a reminder to all of us that if you put the work in and deliver value you're going to win in the end

  8. Dom says:

    Very insightful stuff. I like the way you're able to present this all and keep an eye on the bigger picture at the same time.

    You might not have achieved all your goals, but you definitely moved in the right direction and you also set a lot of goals.

    Big things achieved and lots learned, I'd call that a success.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Glad you like it mate. I could have easily hit all those goals if I'd done the work needed to do them I reckon though I just always put it off.

  9. Janvaris says:

    Hi Stuart, is there a post of how to got started? I'm trying to do the guest post thing but it's really hard finding a skin care blog that accepts guest posts.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Hey, there's 3 progress reports but not really "how I got started" but I don't guest post anyway so that wouldn't help you.

      Pretty much EVERY blog will accept a high quality guest post. As a blogger we all love great content and it's a big task to constantly produce it. If you can write some great content and get it in frontm of them few will turn it down.

      Don't only focus on skin care blogs think of other types of blogs where your audience will hang out - beauty care, hair care, fashion or whatever. They'll make good blogs for guest posts.

  10. Alex says:

    Thanks for taking the time and putting together such a detailed post.

    Things like this help me stay motivated when I get overwhelmed. I definitely need to start outsourcing some services!

  11. It is nice to see how you organized this report, and the honesty behind it. I'm actually working on my new blog's first month income and donation report (March 2015) with a revenue of $7,081.20. Although it was good revenue for it being the first month... there was no net profits.

    I projected that my new blog will be in net profits by the 3rd month. I saw you mentioned that your conclusion for the first quarter of 2015 for your blog was a failure - I have to say I believe there was progress, and where there is progress there is no failure...

    Anyways, this report was great, Stuart. I'm looking forward to seeing your reports going to over $50K per month. Many blessings and much success! 🙂

    -Ricky

    • NicheHacks says:

      Thanks for commenting Ricky. Maybe I used the wrong words - the blog isn't a failure, far from it, but I got off to a bad start this year and just didn't bother trying to hit any of my goals. Profit in 3 months is good work.

  12. Derrick says:

    Dude you're bringing in almost 6 to 9k a month and you that was a downer? I'm jealous dude I wish I was in your shoes with my website. You know what I can do with that kind of cash? Lol

    • NicheHacks says:

      Hey Derrick, look I'm not complaining about the income, it's fantastic, but you'll see the income I hit this month was more accidental than a strategic plan. I failed to hit something like 11 out of 15 targets simply because I did nothing to work on them. That's not a good sign.

  13. Colm says:

    Very informative post Stuart. Although you didn't hit all your goals, you're still doing very well so congratulations and good luck for the next quarter.

    Good call on losing the amount of opt-in boxes you used to have, I always thought they were a bit OTT 🙂

    • NicheHacks says:

      Thanks for the support Colm. There's a bit of an issue with OptinMonster conflicting with something right now so they are popping up too often unintentionally but everything was much better before that.

  14. Robert says:

    Hola, Stuart:

    Congratulations on your anniversary!

    I enjoy reading your stuff, which is usually pretty useful and entertaining. Also, you´re one of the credible people. in a field populated by gross exaggerators or downright liars. Thanks for that too!!

  15. Gerry says:

    Unbelievable post showing that a marketing expert many consider as a guide and follow can think he failed so miserably. I personally think you're just missing a bit of organization and experience in managing projects and that you failed on some points but not as a whole.

    Your plan gave me a real help for starting my own internet marketing project for this quarter. I will do the project control differently though.

    Being a project leader I closely studied your review for the quarter and would suggest the following points that are standard is the IT industry where timelines are critical. These points you don't have to post in advance but you should set them and have them somewhere on your desk or above your PC at all times.

    1 - Evaluate how much time each activity/goal will necessitate (so you don't make a 6-month work list for a single quarter)

    2 - Rank all activities/goals by priority so you work on one or two of them at any time (you can't efficiently work on a list of a dozen tasks for a long time without being overwhelmed so you end-up with almost nothing completed)

    3 - Schedule only for 80% of your available time. Keep 10% for activities that take longer than anticipated and another 10% for the unexpected (as the tax issue)

    4 - Have a deadline for each activity/goal. Do not plan all of them to be completed on the last day. This can't and won't work.

    5 - The only goals to be evaluated on the last day are improvement RESULTS, not improvement activities.

    To show a real-life example of how I would work it let's consider I am hired on January 1st to develop a computer system for March 31st and that the project is realistically feasible. I would plan like this:

    define the project with the most possible details. Jan 15
    write the programs. Jan 31-Feb 15
    Test the programs. Feb 15
    Test the whole thing together Feb 28
    Install pilot system on the computer platform Mar 15.
    Either that pilot is working and we set it live when required or we have 15 days to remove bug and refine.
    Every week on MONDAY (never on Fridays...) an assessment is done of where the project is and immediate corrections are applied if needed.

    There were 15 days for unexpected events such as something we missed or badly designed in the first weeks of the project (your finding out what you need after hiring a Filipino worker) or the customer deciding he absolutely needs a must-have feature he never mentioned from the start (the EU tax).

    Hope this helps

    • NicheHacks says:

      This is some of the best advice I've ever been given on this blog. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it. Will try to implement what you've suggested, think it will help me a lot.

  16. Pamala Bjalme says:

    Okay Stuart, thanks for being real. I have to say that you are the no.#1 website that I come to for advise. In about 3 weeks or less, I will launch my brand new website. I'm scared to death, because I've worked so hard on it. I am not taking your advise on using Word Press, but hope to in the future. I'm using Weebly, because it was very user friendly and I can add code to change how it looks and that is easy. I still have some kinks to work out. Without you and other bloggers, I would not have learned as much as I have. Thank you! I still have so much to learn. My website will be about Decorating your Home and Garden. I've been a Decorative Artist/Designer for over 20 years, so I finally share my experience. I will have a FB page, twitter account, email, ect. I am contacting bloggers that I have listed on my site, and will promote the site by going on forums. Thanks to you, I wouldn't have known all the ins and outs. Still so much to learn, and I can see it is never ending learning what works and doesn't. Thanks again!

    • NicheHacks says:

      Great, glad you are getting started so many never do. Keep us updated with your progress.

  17. TonmoyParves says:

    Hello Stuart, Thanks for your monthly income report. To be honest, you are just my Super HERO Blogger. This is not my first time on your blog , I am always follow you as well i am newcomer Blogger. Keep sharing and give us motive

    Cheers

  18. Hernandez says:

    Well done Stuart.. I have not seen a successful blogger like you. you are really a great man and Your post is inspiring me a lot! Thank you so much for this details post!

  19. Hey, I would not want to repeat what is known and what other guys had said. Nichehacks blog and Stuart has been a great resource plus the immediate help and networking withing the Facebook Master Mind Group.

    Just keep rocking. I personally appreciate big time