February 2023 Niche Site Report
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February 2023, as a whole, looked pretty good across my portfolio of niche sites. For the sites on various ad networks RPMs were up about 10% compared to January (and I didn’t experience quite as big of a drop in January as many publishers reported).
Affiliate sales remained mostly constant, with a slight boost in recurring affiliate income (seems to always happen, especially for software in late January/February).
Perhaps most importantly, none of my sites had any massive drops in traffic. In fact, one of my new sites actually showed some potential with a surprisingly early surge of traffic (for a site that’s 3-4 months old).
Progress of New Niche Sites
While I am working on a larger portfolio of sites (read my intro post to this series to learn more about each), for the purposes of this niche site report, I’ve decided to focus on two of my sites launched in the last few months.
To name a few reasons:
Building income producing niche sites is harder than it used to be. While it’s interesting to see earnings figures from well established sites, as many readers have pointed out to me, building a site (on a “fresh” domain) in 2022 or 2023 is much harder than it was even 5 or 6 years ago.
The sandbox period seems to have become longer, and sites with low domain authority (i.e. any site under a year old) is susceptible to Google algorithm updates. So in order to help newer bloggers, it’s vital that I stay up to date on the latest trends in blogging, and one way to ensure I do this is by going through the website building process myself, on a regular basis!
Competition has increased. There has always been some level of competition in most niches, but it used to be possible to identify larger segments of long tail keywords, with obvious indicators of high traffic, yet low quality SERPs.
Finding these easy wins or low hanging fruit is much harder now, and the rise of AI writing tools will only make this more competitive. So, I’m looking for new strategies by going through the process again myself!
The tips and tricks used to start a successful niche site are very different than those used to boost an existing site. The early stages of launching a niche site are all about reaching enough traffic in order to optimize your content to the fullest extent possible. If you are building a site designed to run display ads, you want to get into a premium display ad network (Mediavine or AdThrive, ASAP).
If you want to apply to top tier affiliate programs, hitting certain traffic thresholds is also key. But getting traffic to a new niche site is very hard. So, it’s important that I am able to replicate this process to expand my own portfolio but also so that I can best help my readers!
All of these factors led me to conclude that showing my readers a behind the scenes look at my two newly launched sites will be extremely valuable.
I am still running all my larger sites (as those are funding all these experimental smaller sites) but I will focus these reports on the findings and insights from the newly created sites.
February 2023 Progress
While the first few months of building a new niche site can be very slow, I decided to hit the ground running.
Some highlights from February 2023:
Niche Site 1 (Craft & DIY Niche)
Published 5 new posts to brand new Craft & DIY niche site (Niche Site 1). I have now published a total of 35 posts on this site, since it was created on a brand new domain in November. While I was optimistic because the site was already getting its first clicks last month, this month showed little growth. From Google Search Console:
So, for a brand new site, this is not actually bad in month 2 of publishing content. It would have been nice to see a sharper increase in clicks but it looks like Google is still testing this site to measure its perceived authority.
One good trend is that the total impressions increased noticably over this month. Unfortunately the CTR was pretty low at .8%, but again, a new site this could still be viewed as progress.
In fact, I’d say of the two new niche sites that I’m covering in these reports, this first site is far more typical in terms of site performance.
Many publishers do not see significant activity until 6 months in. There was little change in total pageviews or sessions (67 sessions and 118 pageviews).
While this site’s growth so far has been pretty boring, I’m definitely going to keep going with the site. However, as the second niche site is performing much better, and I only have finite time and resources, so I’m probably just going to let Niche Site 1 sit for a few months. I added 5 posts this month to it, but will probably only add 1-2 for the next few months (unless I see some positive signs of growth).
I plan to shift my content production efforts primarily to Niche Site 2 (covered in next section of article).
I know the content is high quality, so it’s really just a waiting game at this point. I’ll probably also spend a few hours per month improving the internal linking between posts and adding some new custom graphics, neither of which I haven’t spent much time doing yet. I’m also in the process of claiming various social media handles and getting those low hanging web 2.0 backlinks to start building my EEAT in the eyes of Google.
Niche Site 2 (Technology Niche)
Published 21 new posts to a 5-6 month old technology niche site. I built this site on a domain that I had held for about a year or so (but had not used until I built the current site in fall 2022). As is the case for Niche Site 1, February is the second full month of regular content posting.
Although this site had a couple months lead time on the other site (which may account for some of its performance), this site’s quick and noticeable growth trajectory is much better.
It received 4,629 web search clicks in the past 3 months, with most of this activity occurring in the past month:
I would not say that this performance is typical, given how fast it occurred. I obviously added more content to this site this month (and in total) which accounts for some of the growth. But much of the growth is driven by 5 fairly high performing posts, and 1 extremely high performing post.
As seen in the screenshot above, this site is indexing new posts very well. This is likely due to a combination of a few factors, including the relatively high content velocity, the amount of custom graphics I created from day 1 for this site, and the very narrow focus of the content.
While all my sites focus on clearly defined niches, I’ve essentially focused on 2 main topic clusters for all of my posts on this site, giving it a chance to build topical authority fairly early in the process.
While not the fastest growth of any site I’ve seen, it’s definitely in the top 1% for its performance in the first full 2 months of posting on it!
The average position within the SERPs is 15.6 (up from 18.4 last month), and the 3.7% CTR is nearly double that of last month’s CTR.
This all resulted in Niche Site 2 reaching 5,283 sessions and 6,352 pageviews for February 2023!
This is definitely a better start than I could have hoped for and shows the potential for this site if I maintain the high content velocity and continue to score a few big wins every month through my keyword research for content that has relatively high search volume, with low competition.
While a long way off from the 50,000 sessions needed for Mediavine, this initial growth and the traffic trajectory are very exciting! While my goal of onboarding this site onto Mediavine by the end of 2023 is still unlikely, this site is at least still in the running!
Other Blogging Goals Accomplished in January 2023
One of my goals for 2023 was to do more promotion for Blogging Guide. While reaching out to podcast hosts, scheduling a time, recording an interview, waiting for it to be posted takes a while, podcasts and interviews are a great way to get high quality backlinks for your blog.
These backlinks are necessary for Blogging Guide as it is competing with some very high DA sites. I will probably wait at least a year until using this same strategy on my two new niche sites, referenced above.
In February, I did do one of these interviews for Blogging Guide.
I was a guest on the S Factor YouTube Channel:
Scaling Content Production
Another one of my goals for 2023 was to massively increase my total monthly content production.
In 2022, I published between 20-50 posts per month. These posts were split across all my 5 main money making sites.
I also did a few extra posts in November and December to help jump start my new series of niche sites (about 35 total).
In 2023, I set a goal of more than doubling my content production.
January was the first month of actually implementing this strategy. And I managed to exceed 140 posts! While this was great, it was not sustainable. So I knew February would be lower.
In total, across all my sites, I published 97 articles in February 2023!
In addition to my small army of writers (5 freelancers), I personally wrote a sizeable chunk of this content.
And while these articles vary in length, the average post was around 2200 words!
While not nearly as much as I did the previous month, it is a far more sustainable level. Still, 97 posts works out to nearly 3 posts per day, 7 days per week! So, I’m still trying to do a bit less.
Going forward, my goal is to average 2 posts per day, or roughly 60 posts per month.
Pausing new content creation for Niche Site 1 will definitely help by saving me time, money, and mental bandwidth.
As for Niche Site 2, this site covers content from a much larger niche and is a topic that interests me personally quite a bit. So the goal is to hit at least 100 posts by the end of April.
It’s definitely still a gamble as I am taking money/time away from my 5 main sites, but this site is the type of project that, if properly monetized, I could see myself working on for a few years but not so attached that I wouldn’t be opposed to eventually selling it.
But the first priority remains getting the site to 50,000 sessions for Mediavine or 100,000 pageviews for AdThrive. I don’t plan on adding any display ads (and only a very small amount of affiliate marketing), until I reach these thresholds.
This will give the site the best chance to reach optimal monetization quickly.
However, the obvious downside of this strategy is that I’ll have little to no money coming in, until I can get accepted into an ad network.
I was hoping to get one of my niche sites into a display ad network by the end of the year, but this is still an extremely ambitious goal.
Although this goal seemed like a long-shot, Niche Site 2 has given me a glimmer of hope that this may be possible. We will have to see how the rest of 2023 plays out!
I hope you enjoyed this monthly niche site portfolio update. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! You can follow the whole series by clicking here. If you want to stay up to date on the latest blogging tips and tricks, be sure to check out my newsletter!
Best of luck on your blogging journey!
Until next time!