Starting A Travel Niche Site In 2023

Starting A Travel Niche Site In 2023

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If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that I’ve been pondering new niche site options.

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I’ve been working on my first niche site, a full passion project, for 2+ years.

And the results have been lacklustre.

There is definitely still potential there, but it’s hard work.

The audience for that niche isn’t very valuable (I’m getting $6-8 EPMVs on Ezoic) and I’ve hit a couple hard Google updates in the last year.

It’s regrowing right now, so it could hit the 50K session requirement for Mediavine sometime in the near future – but I simply cannot predict when.

The project needs backlinks to crash through its ceiling (Google simply doesn’t want to send more than 1.2K clicks per day).

And I am making plans to fix that, but I can’t help but wonder what other potential is out there.

One niche that has exploded ever since the end of lockdowns, was of course, travel niche sites.

Which intrigued me, originally, but I didn’t see myself becoming a “travel blogger” anytime soon – which is partially what I think is necessary to succeed there.

I’m sure you too have seen examples of great success from travel bloggers in the community.

Big players like Niche Site Lady, generating multiple tens of thousands of dollars every month, primarily from a travel niche site.

I don’t know about you, but it gets my mouth watering a bit.

Perhaps, though, the boat has sailed on travel niche sites. Have we missed the opportunity already?

While the big boom has passed since travel recovery, I’m all about sustainability and consistency.

And it looks like “Travel” has been quite stable over the long term:

Google Trends data for "Travel" topic“Travel” topic in Google Trends, last 5 years

Alright, great, travel looks to be a steady trend.

And it’s likely to stay that way for a long time to come.

But then the question is, what about the competition?

Yep, there is tons of competition in travel niches.

Every wannabe influencer and their dog has a travel blog thanks to the surge of digital nomadism and remote work.

But I’d argue that a majority of the time, these bloggers focus quite broadly on their own travel experiences that are often varied.

What is still potentially open for grabs, is hyper local travel niche sites.

This is a conversation that’s come up plenty on Twitter, and from emails that subscribers have sent to me, and it’s convinced me to trial it.

I’ve had a specific geographic area in mind for a niche site for some time.

But I always pushed away the idea because I didn’t want to become a “travel blogger”.

With niche sites, though, you don’t necessarily have to fit a generic mould.

You can be unique, and you can direct your content with a unique angle that represents what you’d like to put into the world.

I’m not about to become a travel photographer, Instagram influencer, or YouTuber anytime soon with my niche site.

While those things might help the process, it’s just not for me.

As I have been keeping my eyes open for the right reason to convince me to dive in, one fell in my lap.

I opened up ExpiredDomains.net and logged in to run a quick search on the hyper-local geo I am considering.

With some quick sorting to weed out the junk (which is 95%+ of what’s there), I found a domain that was available.

A DR over 10, and with domain age over 10+ years, and a Wikipedia backlink!

Checking the Archive.org for it, I found the old site and very well-scraped and complete.

It’s a really old kind of website, the kind they probably stitched every page together with custom HTML and early CSS.

But it’s complete, and functional, and contains over 2,000 pages!

I talked to a couple of SEO friends about it and got a “if you don’t take it, I probably will and do something with it later”.

There’s no better “this is worthwhile” confirmation than that, especially from an experienced SEO.

So a couple of days ago, in the span of a few hours, I bought the domain, and used Archivarix.com to republish the site.

I had some issues getting it working as it’s my first time properly using this tool, but the support was insanely good and helped fix everything where I had no clue what I was doing!

$25-ish (domain + Archivarix) and a few hours later and the site was live.

I’ve authorized with Google Search Console and submitted the sitemap.

I also added a GA4 script into the header of every page (Archivarix makes that easy, among several other things like fixing broken links).

Google Analytics graph of travel siteGA4: Early signs of life (but they’re probably all my visits!)

And now… we wait.

I might be a “travel blogger” within the next 1-2 months.

But honestly, it all really depends on whether Google still likes this site.

I’m only going to find that out after waiting a while so that Google can reestablish understanding of the site.

I’ll be watching for GSC indexing and see if the impressions grow over time.

If that doesn’t happen, then something is likely very wrong with the domain’s history (there could be manual penalties from other domain owners’ nefarious uses, etc).

Or the content is just SO old and crap, or thin, that it doesn’t respect it enough to index.

Any one of these could be the case, among other SEO issues, which could halt this idea altogether for this domain.

But what I am hoping is that this site gets re-indexed, and Google gives it the pat on the back, and it shows ranking juice very quickly.

If that happens, I’ll have a bunch of GSC data about what keywords are working for this site already, and enable me to come up with a much stronger topical map of content to work out for an actual WordPress blog.

I’ll likely prepare 30+ posts in whatever topical cluster is the most powerful, prepare a huge SEO redirection setup (remember, there’s 2K pages to possibly deal with), and make the switch in one day.

Every single post I’ll work on will be using unique experience and original photos. And, ideally, I’ll have formulated a unique angle by then.

The domain also kind of sucks, despite it’s age and metrics, so there might be a huge redirection occurring and “acquisition page” added to a new brand.

So watch this space, as you might start hearing more about my travel niche site on this newsletter in future updates!

You’re probably thinking, “Should I start a travel niche site, too?”

That depends.

Are you going to focus on a hyper-local geographic area, that you know REALLY WELL, and can provide unique experiences and photos on?

If that’s yes, then I definitely think you could consider it.

If not, or you already have half a dozen niche sites, then better to get back to work rather than jumping onto this shiny object.

It might not be shiny, at all.

I always tell other early niche site builders to focus on one passion project.

Because it’s very hard to build a niche site into something successful, and it takes a long time, so it’s better to love it than end up hating it.

I’m giving myself the allowance to try something new (potentially), after working mostly on one project for 2+ years.

It’s probably smart to diversify my efforts, and see if I can create a supplemental income in a completely different niche space.

Thanks for reading my ramble about starting a travel niche site.

What do you think — yay or nay to the hyper-local travel niche effort?

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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