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It’s been a short while since I sent an update, so I thought I’d give you a quick catchup and share five tips that I think are really important to understanding and improving niche sites for 2023.
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What I’ve been up to
Firstly, a quick catchup:
I was traveling throughout most of the holiday months
I highly recommend going to visit Montenegro if you ever get the chance, it’s stunning – even in “winter” time.
I’m still tweeting regularly about every small test or development I do with my niche sites
Like this hot debate about how I am removing stock images from my main niche site whenever I do updates. If I don’t have a unique (I took it myself) photo to replace it with, then there simply won’t be an image. But there’s method to this madness, see data.
I am continuing to start to grow my main niche site into a brand across social networks
Mostly this has been with a focus on YouTube Shorts to generate subscribers. I’ve hit some roadblocks here with some shorts getting 0>10 views, but have also had huge successes with some shorts getting 6K+ views. It’s super random, and still figuring it all out. The aim is to build a real brand, not just a niche site.
I’m going almost-all-in on affiliate content for my main niche site in Q1&Q2 2023
Ads (EPMVs/RPMs) have never been high-earning on this site, no matter how hard I try or how many visits I get (it’s stuck on Ezoic). But affiliates have more of a potential upside, and have continued to earn very well even into January with a handful of affiliate-focused posts. Google seems to like my site for products, it trusts it for that content more than it does for informational content. Go figure. Time to capitalize!
I am finally testing out Lasso for inserting product CTAs
Previously, I would build them myself with some elbow grease and some CSS; and they looked good. But now while I’m focusing more on affiliate content, I’m adding more products and managing them all (and keeping them updated) can become a hassle, so Lasso is making that much easier (and prettier). You can get a free 7-day trial here.
I’m two income reports late on my blog, and three income reports late on my YouTube channel. I’ve been moving around so much, I haven’t gotten to it yet. But they are coming soonish!
There is, of course, plenty more things that have been going on; just never enough time in the day to share every aspect.
Niche tips for 2023
From my own recent learnings, I have come up with five tips for niche sites that I think you should think on for growth in 2023:
Invest time and energy into building a brand and not just a niche site
I have chatted with several SEOs who are way ahead of me in this game who have all said a similar story: that the days of mass-content output and monetizing with display advertising is gone. That worked exceptionally well between 2020-2021, but after the biggest updating year in Google history, many sites like this have tanked massively. This was my mistake last year, I was too late to jump on the bandwagon of outputting a lot of informational content to gain traffic and display ad money. Update after update saw my main site get pushed down further and traffic-wise is down 50% from its height in September 2023. It has been written in the stars for too long. Diversify traffic!
Diversify your monetization strategies
There are many options/methods to make money from a niche project, and I do think it’s important to learn how to perfect one before diving into too many at once (master of none is no good), but focusing on more than just one is probably a smart play. There are still opportunities to make money via display advertising, and affiliated product recommendations, and your own physical or digital products, or subscriptions, or memberships, or consulting, or dropshipping. Find out what works for your preference, your expertise, and your audience. Try things out.
Bring on support for skills you lack
Don’t be afraid to hire an assistant if your budget can work it. Get them to work on things that you aren’t very good at or don’t want to do, which for me has been converting my writer into a social media creator where his skills are even better. We brainstorm, we plan, we execute together. And also do what you can to not exist in an echo chamber with your niche site, talk about it with your partner or close friend if you have to and see what seems to make sense.
Find community in your niche and in SEO
Talking with other creators in my niche space as well as talking more with niche SEOs like you is a massive help to fortifying your understanding of your niche space and what kind of work you should be focusing on next. Stay agile enough to consider new developments in blogging (e.g. AI), but stay aligned to the tried and true methods: great content and great backlinks. There’s always a million tiny things you could do or may want to do, but keeping focused and on track is important. Learn from competitors (who should become your new friends) and learn from niche builders, by having lots of conversations!
Don’t use ChatGPT as an excuse to become lazy
AI tools like this will keep improving and they could become a massive assistant to brainstorming, producing tables and summaries, even doing research to some extent. But don’t use AI to be lazy and create all your published content; it will suck and you will get penalized for it eventually. AI written content changes the game, for sure, but as a fan of a small-team approach I think you should be using this as a signal to differentiate; by becoming more unique, more human, and more interesting.
Phew, that was a lot to get off my chest.
Let me know if you have any strong opinions about these tips, and if there is anything else you would add?