Introduction: Who I am and how I’m going to help you start your first online business

Welcome, students!

You’re about to take the first step towards creating your own online business in just 4 weeks, with less than £200.

This is the ultimate, condensed, step-by-step guide that will allow anyone, no matter how little experience of online business, to establish a successful online venture.

The course is designed in such a way that we break down every stage of the process into daily, bitesize, actionable segments. Making the daunting prospect of building a business plan, developing a website, marketing and promoting a business, and developing everything else in-between, seem much more manageable.

I’ll be right here, every day, for 4 weeks, guiding you through every stage.

And why am I the person to do this? You might ask.

Well, I’m 30 years old. I’ve been establishing, running, and exiting online businesses since I was 16. From online cash management tools, to a copywriting agency, to affiliate marketing websites, right the way through to a stem cell banking business. A real diverse range of industries and business models.

Some businesses worked out well, others didn’t.

The true value I’m offering in this course is my experience. My experience of what works and what doesn’t. What are the fastest routes to success, what are the most cost-effective ways to market your business online, what expensive mistakes to avoid, and ultimately, what it takes to build a successful business from next to no investment.

I’m now the CEO of Vitalife Group – a group of fast-growing entrepreneurial businesses in the health and wellness sector.

I started this business shortly after I exited my copywriting agency, and put just a couple of hundred pounds into getting everything set-up. It has since generated over £1.5m in turnover, and has been profitable since the moment it was established.

So, I’ve been through the very process I’m about to teach you. Many times over!

I guess the next question you could ask is why am I doing this?

If I’m doing so well with my own businesses, why create a course that shows other people how I do it?

Well, the truth is, I have a real passion for business. And not just any business. In particular, I have a passion for seeing small businesses grow.

I love the excitement of building something from nothing. The ‘rawness’ of startups and the ingenuity and resourcefulness required to promote and grow a business without a multi-million pound marketing budget.

I want to show people who have never had their own business (or even those that have, and want to grow), how easy it is to get started. And, using my advice and guidance, how you can fasttrack your way to being a successful entrepreneur by learning from my mistakes, not your own, and by focusing on the things that work.

I want to empower people who don’t have a great deal of cash to invest in a business, with the knowledge and know-how to be resourceful enough to take-on established businesses and win.

Whether you already have an idea for a business, or just want to escape your 9-5 but don’t know how, I’m going to help you monetise your passion, I’m going to help you plan for success, and I’m going to help you implement that plan every step of the way, until at the end of the 4-week course, you’ll have a revenue-generating, profitable online business.

So, are you ready?

Let’s get started.

The course is situated over on Udemy. If you haven’t already, head on over there and enroll.

Enroll today and get my course by clicking here.

This blog will provide useful hints and tips alongside the course to help you start your business and grow it successfully.

F@#k the Stats

I was recently asked on Quora ‘Why would I start a business if I only have a 5% chance of succeeding’

My answer?

If there was only a 0.00001% chance of succeeding, I’d still give it a shot, and aim to be in the 0.00001%.

Why?

Because not trying guarantees a 0% chance of success.

At least when you try, there is a chance.

What’s more, if you’re persistent enough in your efforts and consistent enough with your work ethic, you can flip that 5% statistic to look rather encouraging.

Rather than saying 95% of start-ups fail, which, in all fairness, sounds pretty grim, we could say, when you are starting-up, provided you are prepared, after failure, to get back up and try again up to 20 times, you are guaranteed to experience success.

100% guaranteed to enjoy success!

All you have to be prepared to do is get back up from failure up to 20 times over, and you’ll guarantee success.

Now that sounds too positive, right? Too optimistic?

Well, it’s fact.

And it’s based on the same 95% failure statistic for start-ups. It’s just a different way of looking at it.

If only 5% of all start-ups succeed, then statistically speaking, if you are involved in 20 start-ups, you should experience success in at least one of them.

Now okay, it might not work quite like that in practice – it’s like the 1 in 3 people will get cancer statistic. It doesn’t mean that 3 healthy, clean-living, non-smokers in a room will experience the same cancer statistics as 3 unhealthy drinkers, smokers, and drug abusers stood in a room. It’s an average. An indication.

But if you’re going to give enough weight to the 95% failure statistic as to prevent you from ever taking a risk or starting your own business, then you should lend the same amount of weight to my perspective on this statistic, that if you are prepared to try 20 times, you WILL succeed. Guaranteed.

My point?

Don’t let facts, figures and statistics ever deter you from taking risks and following your dreams.

You either flip the stats to show you how many times you have to endure failure in order to guarantee success, and then gear-up accordingly, or you simply say f@#k the stats, and do it anyway.

Stats are an average, and averages account for slack. They account for those half-arsers, those part-time entrepreneurs who just want to be in the ‘start-up’ club, and aren’t really conditioned for what it takes to succeed – which is, ultimately, to endure failure and to keep getting back up until you do succeed.

So, let me ask you – are you average? Are you part of the slack? Or do you truly have what it takes to succeed?

Because if you do, and if you are prepared to endure failure up to 20 times over and still keep trying, then let me tell you, that 5% margin for success widens to 100%.

So f@#k what the stats say. Stats are for average Joes, the one attempt wonders, the people without the drive and determination to make their own statistics.

Ordinary stats don’t apply to extraordinary people.

Ignore the stats, ignore the nay-sayers, and ignore the stigma of failure.

Failure is a learning experience like no other. It’s a process of strengthening, adaptation, and growth.

It’s also often the number one precursor for success. So if you’ve failed before, don’t stop now, things are just about to get exciting for you!

Over the years I’ve had my fair share of success and failure, and my online business course ‘Fast Track Entrepreneur’ is designed to lend my experiences to you, so you can navigate the common pitfalls entrepreneurs face, and to maximise your chances of start-up success.

Enroll online today here.

How to Create a Successful Udemy Course

How to Create a Successful Udemy Course

I started this blog ultimately to promote my Udemy course that I created – showing you how to start a business from scratch with very little cash to invest.

Over the past couple of days, that course has reached a milestone – it has broken the 1,000 student enrollment mark.

That’s amazing!

Since September 2016, I can say that I have actively helped 1,029 people learn to either start, or grow, their business.

Wow!

Seeing the positive feedback from the people enrolled on my course reinforces the point that real people around the World (the UK, US, Europe, Asia, Russia and more) are watching my course videos and learning from my experiences as an entrepreneur.

That’s one of the best feelings – because that’s what I set out to do, to help people, and to show them that it is possible to start your own business, no matter how little start-up capital you have available.

I’m so pleased the course is helping people, and it’s such a great feeling that, guess what?

I’m launching another course!

This one will be centered around a problem many entrepreneurs face, and how to overcome this problem (no spoilers just yet!).

Plus, I have an exciting collaboration course getting underway soon that will see me partner with an old friend of mine with years and years of experience in computer programming and coding – allowing us to launch courses in other computer-related topics too, a category that is exceptionally popular with students on Udemy.

So, why the blog post?

Well, kind of like I did with my niche site project, I wanted to actually document the process of me developing, building, launching, and promoting my new Udemy course, so that anyone else wanting to teach others about something they’re an expert in, and actually create a revenue stream from doing so, can learn how to create a successful Udemy course.

As it’s a pretty lengthy process to build a course, I’m going to break this down across several posts in the coming weeks (and maybe months) so you get an in-depth view into building a course, in a step-by-step format.

It will follow a path something like:

  • How to develop a successful/in-demand course topic and concept
  • How to build your course content and produce quality videos on a budget
  • How to promote/market your course successfully

In this post, I want to cover the very first steps of starting your own Udemy course – the first bullet point in my list, understanding what topic your course is going to cover, who your audience will be, and ensuring there is sufficient demand in this particular area, and that it isn’t saturated with competition on Udemy.

So, first things first, to understand your course topic, you have to first understand what you know, that others would find value in learning about.

You can’t build a course teaching others how to do something, when you haven’t mastered the course subject yourself. You just cannot ‘wing it’ – if you try, you’ll be lucky if your course even gets approved, and if it does, the reviews will soon display your inexperience, and your course will flop.

Once you understand the broad course subject you’ll follow, based on your knowledge and experience, then you need to understand how you’ll position your course amongst the many other Udemy courses that probably exist in the same niche, and how you ensure you will still have a sizable audience for your course.

Here’s the steps I follow:

Research Your Subject and find a common problem people have within your subject

People who complete Udemy courses don’t receive an official qualification like a diploma, a degree, or even an NVQ – all they receive is a course completion certificate.

Therefore, people rarely use Udemy courses to impress employers or to apply for a job role that requires a specific academic qualification (sorry, you’ll have to go to a proper University to become a brain surgeon).

So, what do they enroll in Udemy courses for?

Usually, self-development or to overcome a problem they have.

So, you need to understand where your course will sit within these two student categories.

Will students for your course be self-motivated, self-developers looking to self-teach themselves a subject and then go out and apply it in the real World?

Or will they be frustrated people, looking for solutions to a particular problem they face?

Once you understand this, you can shape your course topic, title, and modules accordingly to suit.

I have found from experience, unless you’re building a course in a computer/coding related subject, finding a common problem and a way to overcome that problem is the best way to build a course that has strong revenue-generation potential.

Why?

Because these potential students are motivated. They are frustrated, and want to understand how to overcome something. And to do so, they’re often willing to pay.

Visit forums, read reviews of other courses in your field, and get to know what common problems people face in your topic area. Make sure it’s a common issue.

Research the competition

Once you’ve found a common problem in your field of expertise, you need to research the other courses in this area.

If it’s a truly common problem you’ve discovered, it will probably already be covered on Udemy in some shape or form. Your job now is to find how you can still fit your course into the competitive landscape and offer a USP (Unique Selling Point).

Is there a specific or unique angle you can take with your course to differentiate it from the others on Udemy?

Think of things that will really resonate with your target audience. So, if you find that the problem you are focusing on is commonly experienced by a particular sort of person, then gear the course specifically for that target profile – ensure you make this USP clear in your course title too.

Research other courses to ensure you are hitting on a subject area that has sufficient demand to suit your own goals with the course, regarding enrollments or revenue.

Check similar course enrollment rates and ratings – are there some big numbers? If not, it may be back to the drawing board – there can be such a thing as being too niche, and your course will just never be picked-up in search results (even by the specific people you’re targeting) because you’ll not have the enrollment numbers and reviews to rank higher according to Udemy’s search and browse ranking algorithms.

And that pretty much wraps-up my first part of this blog post series – at this point you should have a solid idea of your Udemy course subject and title.

The next steps will follow in future posts – stay posted for these, as I guide you through the entire process of creating your own successful Udemy course.

Using Wordpress Tags for SEO (2) How to Grow Your Business Like a Bodybuilder

How to Grow Your Business Like a Bodybuilder

If you’re into bodybuilding, or know someone who is, you’ll have invariably heard the phrases ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ before.

For those that don’t know, bulking is the phase bodybuilders go through when they are attempting to pile on more mass during ‘off-season’.

Cutting, on the other hand, is the process of dieting that bodybuilders go through to strip their body of excess fat and water so they look as ripped as possible on-stage.

By now, you may be thinking, this is a business blog – why are you talking about bodybuilding?

Well, strangely, there are very similar parallels between the two.

Cut away the intricacies, and strip them both back to basics – business and bodybuilding – and you ultimately have a situation where you are trying to build something. Be it your body, or your business.

And in building something, you inevitably face phases whereby you focus on growth, and also phases where you strip things back a little.

No business can continue to grow infinitely and uninterrupted, and no growth cycle is ever as smooth as it looks from the outside.

There are mistakes, strategic changes, recruitment drives, employment cuts, investment, and divestment – until the business reaches its optimal performance.

A businesses’ bulking cycle could be seen as the process of investment – through recruitment drives, property purchases, business infrastructure, more stock, and so on.

But, as with bodybuilding, you cannot go through a bulking cycle (regardless of how clean you eat or how hard you train) and not also gain some amount of fat and water retention. It is impossible.

In the case of a business, the ‘fat’ could be seen as overstaffing in certain areas, overstock on certain product lines that don’t sell that fast, excess/unused office or warehouse space, and so on.

These are the natural (and inevitable) side-effects of growth – it’s impossible to maintain perfection during a growth cycle. You WILL gain some unwanted by-products from the growth process – it’s precisely why bodybuilders go through the bulking and cutting cycle. If it was possible to maintain competition physique whilst gaining more mass in a bulking cycle, then these cycles wouldn’t exist – bodybuilders would just constantly ‘bulk’.

So, then comes the ‘cut’.

When the dust has settled during a growth phase, and the business can be analysed in the areas of profitability and efficiency, the business leaders will then go through a phase of stripping any unnecessary ‘fat’ from within the business.

They’ll cut staff, refine their stock holding and discount/discontinue slow-moving lines, they’ll re-organise processes to gain more efficiency, and they may even dispose of unwanted or unprofitable assets within the business.

Until, down the line, the business has retained much of the revenue it gained through the growth cycle, and has now stripped down to show a healthy profit on that turnover following the ‘cut’.

Just like a bodybuilder, following a cut, would look to maintain most of the lean muscle mass they gained during a bulking cycle, but have stripped away any excess fat and water during the cut – achieving an optimal physique for competition.

All businesses go through these cycles over time in order to ultimately achieve profitable growth – and it takes a careful balance and strategic management to perform successfully.

Focus too much on the growth phase of your business and you’ll have a high-revenue organisation that struggles to turn a profit (or even worse, makes a loss) or that turns a profit but struggles with cash.

Alternatively, focus too much on the profit aspect of your business (and be fearful of reinvesting for future growth), and you’ll see little to no growth in your business over time, and your profit will stagnate.

As a business owner/manager, you have to go through these cycles in order to progress, but you also have to be mindful of the downside associated with not achieving an optimal balance between the two.

What stage are you currently in with your business? Bulk or Cut? Please share your business growth story in the comments below.

How to Choose a Company Name

How to Choose a Company Name

Choosing a company name is one of the first steps towards making your business official and giving it identity.

Now, before I get into this post, I want to be clear that your company name is really of little significance – so don’t spend too much time procrastinating over it.

And here’s why it doesn’t really matter:

  • You can change your incorporated company name very easily (we did it after just a couple of months for Vitalife Ltd – it was previously incorporated as Snow White Teeth Ltd)
  • You can use a trading name/brand in front of your company name and on all communication – so if you don’t like the company name you chose, and you don’t want the hassle of changing it at Companies House, just make up a trading name to act as the face of your business
  • A company is built on what it does, not what it’s called – look at ‘Associated British Foods’ for instance. Not the most thrilling or memorable of company names (and nor is it even that applicable to one of its best known brand names, Primark), but worth over £25billion

The most important thing is for you to come up with a company name, and get it incorporated, so you can continue to make progress on your business.

Equally important is that you check the availability of your preferred company name on the Companies House register, the Trademark register, and also check for your domain name availability, before you agree on anything.

The last thing you need when starting your business is an infringement case being presented against you.

Here’s some ideas for quickly and easily coming-up with your company name:

Merge two Associated Words

Great for consumer-facing businesses and where the brand/company name is going to need to resonate a particular image or impression – because it does this naturally through the connection with the words used.

This is exactly the technique we used when coming up with the name ‘Vitalife’ – our Group of businesses is all about health and wellbeing, so we took the words ‘vitality’ and ‘life’ and merged them. So whenever someone thinks of our brand name, even if they don’t know our business that well, they instantly think of health and wellness, because of the connection with the merged words.

This works equally well in a B2B (Business to Business) organisation too.

Accenture, the professional services company, took this same approach – merging the names of two things they specialise in the most, acquisitions and divestiture.

Tell it Like it is

Plain and simple.

Call your company by exactly what it does.

It may seem boring, and quite easy for people to forget, but you have to weigh this against the benefit of instantly communicating what you are about to your market, and not leaving them guessing.

This works great in companies where repeat purchases are not expected from customers, and therefore memorability and awareness are not as important in comparison to clearly communicating what you are actually selling.

The ‘Euthanasia Clinic’ will not be too concerned about remarketing to its clients – so the benefit of communicating a message to potential first-time customers outweighs the downside of having a non-memorable name.

You can always adapt this technique and combine a unique, trademarkable brand name with a descriptive term, to get the best of both Worlds.

Use Your Own Name

Give your business a personal edge and a closer connection to yourself – if you’re well known in your particular field, for instance, it could add credibility and instant awareness to your newly incorporated business that would otherwise be unknown to your market.

This is a common technique in professional services due to the nature of this work and the personal connection they establish with their clients – that’s why you see a million and one solicitor firms and estate agents named after their founders and partners (which, to be honest, would swerve me away from this approach if I operated in one of these particular fields – just to differentiate myself from the rest of the surname-laden estate agents or solicitors).

Choose something Random

If you’re still at a loss as to what to call your company, just choose the first word that comes to your head – however random.

Usually, random words, and made-up terms, can be the most memorable.

All you have to be aware of is that this approach may give no indication whatsoever to your market as to what you do.

So whilst memorable, and great for maintaining awareness once this is gained in your marketplace, it can be difficult to communicate your offerings as a newly incorporated business.  Like ‘Uber’ – everyone now knows they are mainly about their cab-calling service, but early on, nobody knew what they offered.

What this does also achieve is help you get off the starting block – it’s better than spending a further week procrastinating over your company name, when you could be busy building the actual company.

Like I mentioned earlier, you can always change the name down the line if you don’t like it anymore.

You can receive my advice and guidance on the many other steps involved in setting-up and growing your own business by enrolling in my step-by-step business start-up course here.

Have an incorporated company already?

I’d love to hear how you came-up with the name for your company in the comments section below.

December, a time for reflection

December – A Month for Reflection

I’m not a believer in New Year resolutions.

If you want to change something or set a goal, the time of Year should have no bearing on that.

Whether it’s January, February, August, or November – if you want to make a change or set yourself a goal, start today, this minute. Don’t wait for a New Year before taking action.

However, I do often view December as a great month for reflection.

As meaningless as the end and start of a Year is in terms of setting goals and taking action, it’s still a great time to look back and celebrate all your achievements from the previous 12 months.

Life goes by so quickly (especially when you’re busy running your own business) and often you don’t have much time to reflect during the Year – you’re busy taking action and forging ahead.

But it’s super important that we take time, at least once a year, to look back at our journey and celebrate the good times and the things we’ve achieved (however big or small).

When you are constantly challenging yourself – as an entrepreneur, as a professional, as an athlete, as an adventurer, as a parent, whatever it may be – you will undoubtedly experience failures and times of adversity. Times where it just feels so much easier to throw in the towel than to carry on pursuing your dreams and ambitions.

And if we don’t take time to celebrate the successes and the good times, then it’s often easy to become overrun by adverse situations and failures.

Naturally, we learn more from failure than we do success – we’re forced to if we want to overcome that failure we’ve experienced. We have to learn what caused us to fail, what could have been done differently, how to recover from that failure, and how to get back up and try again with a different approach.

But with success, we’re just pleased it worked out. We might celebrate briefly, then it’s on to the next challenge. You don’t need to spend any more time analysing your success, because you’ve succeeded in what you intended to achieve. In that sense, there’s little more to learn from analysing that situation.

So, even if you experience more successes than you do failures, your mind lends much more thought and energy towards failure – and as a result, your perception of self can become one geared towards failure, rather than success.

To combat this, we must consciously spend more time celebrating our wins. Even the smallest.

And I think December is a great time to spend some thought on your previous wins this year. To revisit them, and to remind yourself of the things you’ve achieved since January, and to re-balance your mindset going into the New Year – with a successful frame of mind.

So, on reflection, here’s my wins of 2016:

  • Spending tons of quality time with my beautiful Wife and Daughter (I’m constantly thankful that I’m able to do most of my work from home – so I don’t miss a moment of family life, despite how busy things get!)
  • Saving over £1m of healthy food and drink from going to landfill
  • Winning funding to purchase our own warehouse and continue to grow the positive impact we’re having on Food Waste with Love Health Hate Waste
  • Launching our new website for Love Health Hate Waste and introducing thousands of new lines
  • Transforming our high street store from loss-making, into making a small profit – to the point we can explore more sites for stores in the UK
  • Starting this blog! And my Udemy course, that’s now helped over 700 people start and grow their own online business since September
  • Starting my first niche site project
  • Revamping our catalogue for Vitalife Health and developing new revenue streams for this business

I’d love to hear what your wins were this year gone by. Please share them in the comments below.

 

niche site progress report

Niche Site Income Report 1 – One Month On

We’re already 1 month on from when I first started my niche site ‘Pizza Oven Hub’.

It feels like much more time has passed since I was first researching and trying to find the right niche for my site – so much has happened this past 4 weeks (and I was ill for one of the 4, so it’s more like 3 weeks in terms of weeks spent out of bed!).

Since then I found my niche, bought my domain, designed and built content for my entire site, and have managed to secure at least 2 high-quality, highly-relevant backlinks – and it’s already starting to show the impact of this in our search engine rankings.

That’s on-top of my regular commitments with Vitalife Group – where I’ve been sourcing some new store locations for one of our businesses, progressing things with the drawn-out warehouse purchase, coordinating and planning a new video ad for Vitalife Health, negotiating on some new stock bundles, chipping-in on customer service, and introducing quite a few changes and new, exciting features to the websites.

Plus I got to spend some good quality time with my lovely Wife and Daughter this month in Robin Hill on the Isle of Wight, and we’ve been out to eat quite a few times trying some newly discovered restaurants on the Island (The Pointer Inn in Newchurch do THE NICEST pie I’ve ever eaten – the Newchurch Pie – check it out if you’re ever on the Island).

Not to mention posting on here!

Phew.

It’s been a very busy, challenging but enjoyable month.

Cut to the Chase . . . How much Income has it Delivered?

Drum roll please . . .

Over the past 4 weeks, since I started my niche site, it has earned a grand total of:

£1.95!

And don’t laugh – I’m actually quite proud of this figure. It’s a success as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s my Adsense account snapshot (if you can’t believe your eyes!):

adsense snapshot

It barely pays for a cup of coffee, but it’s still a success.

Why?

Because 1, the only costs associated with setting the site up were the domain purchase (3 years at £27.12) and ebook cover/logo design (around £7 after currency conversion on Fiverr), so I’m already a whopping 5-6% towards reaching break-even on the project, and 2, more importantly (and seriously), niche sites have a compounding effect as your traffic builds – meaning they typically earn very little or nothing in the early stages, and as traffic grows, so does the income from the site.

Plus, your involvement and investment of time/energy tends to follow the opposite trend – so whilst I’ve invested a lot of time at the outset in getting things setup, as I get more backlinks and more SEO visibility for the site, my time and involvement should fall, just as income from the site rises.

This eventually leads to a situation where you are earning income from your niche site without any involvement whatsoever – which is the holy grail for everyone right? Fully automated income.

I actually added this site to my existing Hostgator hosting account that permits unlimited domains – so no ongoing hosting costs are incurred either.

Search Engine Performance

Whilst ranking for the (slightly more competitive than I realised) primary keyword of ‘pizza oven’ is still proving to be elusive, the site is ranking for a lot of derivative keywords like ‘Igneus Pizza Oven’ (position 14) which is a popular pizza oven model, ‘buy pizza oven online’ (position 83 now, following a position of 44 last week – which I’m guessing is down to the ‘Google Dance’), and many more.

All of these have delivered 14 sessions over the past 2 weeks from organic traffic, and it only started ranking for these derivative words from the moment the first backlink was placed.

Before this, the site didn’t rank at all – for anything – for the first couple of weeks.

Proving the importance of backlinks when it comes to SEO.

See the organic traffic pattern below:

organic traffic

This is just based on 2 do-follow links on high-authority, relevant sites, and a few social shares.

The rest of the traffic has come from the social shares we’ve had and a few visits from referrals from the backlinking sites.

I’m still convinced we can get the site to page 1 for the primary keyword ‘pizza oven’ with more quality backlinks.

If you want to learn how I gained the first 2 backlinks and how I plan to gain more, read my (more effective) backlink strategy here.

As you can see, organic traffic is still minimal, and in its first month, the full traffic figure came to a grand total of 215 sessions from 160 users.

So, again, next-to-nothing.

Which is reassuring, and gives me even more confidence of the site’s earning potential, because if the site is generating revenue of £1.95 against 215 visits, then if we do eventually land the first page of Google for ‘Pizza Oven’ with 22,000 searches per month, on a relative basis, this should generate £198.90 per month.

Plus, add in all the derivative keywords that will deliver a good deal of traffic too, and consider that the £1.95 figure only came from one of the site’s revenue channels – Adsense, and no consideration given for the earning potential from our Amazon affiliate store, then total earning potential could easily exceed £1,000 per month with the right level of traffic.

And for no involvement from me by that point, that truly would be passive income.

How to Make Your Adsense Ads Effective

One thing I have learned throughout this niche site process is you can go two ways with your Adsense ads – make them obvious, or subtly work them into your site content.

I’ve found that the latter is far, far more effective than the former.

My clickthrough rates on banner/graphical type ads have been much lower than my clickthrough on link-based or text-based ads.

People just don’t seem to click on ads when they’re very obviously . . . ads.

The best-performing ad groups I’ve seen have been link-based, where they mimic a navigation menu or something similar – you can see how I worked a set in on a screenshot of my niche site below:

Niche site screenshot showing adsense ads

This actually looks like part of the website navigation, and is also one of the first things the visitor sees, so is therefore the best performing ad group for me.

Some people might consider this underhand and sneaky – and whilst I’d agree that it does encourage people to click on paid ads, I’m still comfortable with this tactic because:

  1. It still delivers content that the visitor clicks on and expresses an interest in, so it isn’t misleading in the content it delivers
  2. It still makes it clear to visitors that these are ad-based links since the ‘Ad Choices’ link  is placed to the side of them
  3. It ultimately delivers my goal as the website owner – to get visitors off the site, via an ad. And it’s very effective at it too

So, there you have it – my month 1 update on my niche site progress and income report.

Whilst I’m not quite making a fortune with it, things are looking promising and I’m really confident and excited about the future of this website and where it will go with a few more backlinks.

If you’re also going through your own niche site journey, please share your progress and income in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

niche-site-step-3-1-backlink-strategy

Niche Site Step 3.1: My (More Effective) Backlink Strategy

So, it’s been all of 1 week since I posted my backlink strategy for my niche site pizzaovenhub.com and . . . sorry guys, I’ve changed it all up already.

Sorry to rock the boat!

I’ve never professed to be an expert in this field, and that’s what this journey is all about – learning what works and what doesn’t, so I can teach my readers, and be the crash-test dummy of backlinking and SEO.

The broken link approach that I mentioned in my last post only seemed to work for social sharing, and quickly started to lose the initial momentum and conversion rate I mentioned in my previous post.

It also became fairly obvious, rather quickly, that well-ranked blogs and websites are wise to the templates high-profile bloggers like Neil Patel provide you with, and they are sick of them! So to get a link from the guys that matter – it’s going to take a lot more than good content and a template outreach email.

So I changed my strategy, and now I have something that works – and I’m already seeing the impact in rankings on derivative keywords from just one powerful backlink placed under this new strategy.

So, here it is . . .

My (Effective) Backlink Strategy

A step by step graphic about how to backlink effectively

My effective backlink strategy ultimately comprises 4 parts (with a bit of thought in-between – hence the 5 steps above), just as my previous strategy did – except the approach is much different:

  1. Find relevant links
  2. Outreach, but in a different way (see below)
  3. Develop and post agreed content
  4. Get your link

So here’s the 4 steps in more detail:

1. Find Relevant Links

Forget resource pages and links pages this time – we’re delivering much more value to the link target than ‘useful information’ for their readers, so we don’t just need to hit the sites that actively link out on resource/links pages.

Plus, this new approach is going to get you high-quality contextual links (embedded within the link-target’s site content) – just the sort that Brian Dean from Backlinko says you should be aiming for.

To find my relevant links, I started with a brainstorm – I brainstormed all related keyword terms, derivative (including your primary phrase but not exclusively your primary phrase, so for me, things like ‘wood fired pizza oven training’ and so on) and semantic (not including your keyword phrase but linked to it in some way, so for me, things like ‘firewood’ and ‘outdoor cooking’) keywords.

Then, when you have a list of derivative and semantic keywords, do some Googling on these terms to see what sort of websites come up.

Now, before you jump into step 2 and contact them, you need to think about what sort of value you could add to their site and their business.

Tune in to WI FM (What’s In it For Me), from the website owner’s perspective. What can you deliver to them that helps them meet their business/website/blog’s objectives.

And I’m not talking vague things like ‘providing a valuable link to show their visitors’ – these website owners really don’t care about this. They’re either selling something, trying to raise their profile with potential customers, or communicating a particular message to their audience, or all three.

You need to therefore deliver something to them that will help them sell their products/services, raise their profile, or communicate their message.

And to do that effectively, you’re going to need to develop your content after you know who you’re trying to get a link from – so you can customise the content down to actually mentioning them in the piece.

This is where running other ecommerce businesses through my position at Vitalife Group came in useful – it gave me perspective of how I’d feel about bloggers contacting my companies for backlinks by using the broken link and ‘valuable content’ approach.

To be honest, I’d probably fix the link and not bother sharing the content – because I’m wise to the approach now, and I know their primary motivation for getting in-touch is not to help me by finding broken links, it’s to help themselves by getting a backlink from my site.

And the same applies to authoritative websites and blogs – they’ll receive tons of these emails, and they’ll be wise to your motivations for contacting them, so even before they’ve started reading the content of your email, the barriers are up.

So instead, once you’ve found a few ‘link targets’ by searching Google for your derivative and semantic keywords, you need to take the following approach . . .

2. Outreach, but in a Different Way

Don’t use templates for your outreach! Start every point of communication with link targets from scratch.

I know, I know. It’s laborious, and takes a lot of time.

BUT, if you are focusing on highly authoritative, relevant sites, attaining just one quality link like this can rocket you up the rankings (as I’ve already experienced this early on – but more on this later in the post) – so don’t worry about this process taking time.

Backlinking is about quality, not quantity.

Put all of your efforts into attaining each link you outreach for – it should never be a case of copy/paste, hit send and repeat. Do this, and you lose the whole impact of this highly-effective strategy.

So, start with your first link target, make sure they are ranking well for either a derivative or semantic keyword in your field, and think carefully about what they want.

I did this, and my first target was a pizza oven retailer.

They had an exclusive, slick-looking pizza oven for sale – and it was available only from them. This meant, if I wrote a feature about it, it would only ever benefit them in terms of the awareness it generates – which would deliver a high level of value to them.

So, I went ahead and dreamed-up a new concept of announcing our ‘Pizza Oven of the Month’ on the blog. It was the 1st November, so seemed the perfect time to start something like this.

I wrote a very flattering piece about the oven, covering its features, and what I ultimately thought of it and why it was November’s Pizza Oven of the Month (which was all actually truthful – by the end I did want one of them myself!).

I then contacted the website and told them about the review and the fact that one of their exclusive models had made our Pizza Oven of the Month award. To which they shared socially, and also placed a contextual link to my niche site on their HOME PAGE of all places!

That’s a 100% conversion rate right there. This was the first target I’d approached under this strategy, they were ranked highly for my primary keyword and other derivative keywords, and I’d just attained a juicy backlink from them on their most important page of all.

The impact of this link was immediately apparent, in a few days it made my site rank for lots of derivative keywords (although, strangely, it’s still not showing for my primary keyword ‘pizza oven’ – but a few more links like this and I’m sure it will).

From not ranking on anything other than ‘Pizza Oven Hub’ – which is ultimately my domain name, and noone ever uses this as a search term – to ranking at the following places for these words:

Buy Pizza Oven Online – Rank 44 Worldwide

Pizza Oven Recipes – Rank 127 Worldwide

Outdoor Pizza Oven Recipes – Rank 153 Worldwide

How do I know this?

I use a combination of my Google Webmaster account for my niche site, which tells you what search terms your site is showing for, then I run these search terms through SERPs.com’s Rank Checker Tool, to find the precise rank at any given time.

The above data is interesting, not just because I wasn’t ranking at all prior to this single backlink, but it’s also interesting that the best ranking keyword is related to buying pizza ovens online – which is the primary focus of the site providing the backlink, to sell Pizza Ovens online.

Although I have an Amazon affiliate store on my niche site and a ‘Buy Pizza Ovens Online’ page, this is certainly not where my textual content is focused – it’s more around the types of pizza oven available, and also quite a lot of keywords focused around building your own pizza oven. So it’s definitely not my on-site content that’s guided this ranking.

Now, as I said before, I’m no SEO expert – I’m just crash-testing theories – but perhaps this suggests that Google takes the relevance of sites that are backlinking to yours not only seriously, but it also guides your ranking in searches based on your backlinking site’s content (perhaps even more so than your own on-site content?).

Or perhaps it’s simply because competition is less fierce in this long-tail term? And I haven’t surfaced that well elsewhere because the other terms are more competitive?

I dunno.

I just found this a very interesting point.

I think, in truth, Google’s algorithm is probably so complex, with so many layers and variables, that even the boffins that built it and maintain it couldn’t explain specifically what single part of the algorithm leads, primarily, to ranking for a particular term.

I also heard they were using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to allow the algorithm to adapt to new search terms never used before and so on.

That’s all a little bit too complex for me – I’m just trying to get my little Pizza Oven niche site ranked well – and the common consensus, and my own data, show that quality, relevant backlinks are the general direction you need to head in to achieve this.

I digress . . .

Back to the strategy.

So, in my example I kind of did things backwards to what I prescribe in my 4 step guidance, I created the content prior to contacting the link  target – but I thought in that particular instance (and probably in many others) it would add more credibility to build the content and publish before discussing it with the link target.

It’s more credible to say, ‘hey, I just featured your product on my blog and it won our Monthly award’, than to say, ‘hey, if you provide me a link on your site, I’ll say one of your products won our Monthly award’.

It all depends on your particular approach and the type of custom content you’re building – it’s a judgement call you have to make on every link target before you approach them. Is it more credible, and therefore more likely to get shared, if I build the content THEN share this with the target, or is it safer to contact them first and build a feature with their involvement/awareness of it, to better guarantee a link placement once published.

I’ve used both techniques, and both are proving to be effective.

3. Develop and Post Your Agreed Content

So, if you’ve approached your link target at this point, and they have agreed to link to your feature if you build something around their product/service – you’re now in a position to type out your content and give them something worth sharing.

When writing your actual content, remain mindful of what your link target wants from the piece (to sell more products/services, to raise awareness of something, etc) and ensure you get this across effectively, but also remember that the target will not want the piece to sound as though you are affiliated with them, as it then loses credibility for sharing amongst their readership and visitors, so try to keep it sounding independent and unbiased.

4. Get Your Link

When you’re happy with the content, it’s often a good idea, provided you have contacted your link target beforehand and they are aware of the feature being built, to get their input before publishing.

Ensure it meets their needs and get their stamp of approval before you send it live.

Then all you have to do from here is let them know it’s gone live, provide the link, and kindly ask that they link through to the piece from their website as agreed.

BINGO!

You’ve got your high-quality, relevant link.

Plus, you’ve just built yourself some relevant, unique, fresh content for your site at the same time – it’s a win-win.

The approach not only wins more backlinks at an incredible conversion rate, but it also commits you to continually developing new content for your site – which is often hard to keep up when you have other commitments beyond your niche site.

And that’s that!

Give it a go, and let me know what success rate you have with it by sharing your story in the comment section below.

Good luck! And remember, this is a time-consuming approach, but a very rewarding one.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend an hour or two building custom content and pretty much guaranteeing a quality backlink than spend an hour or two sending template outreach emails to ‘hopefully’ get one or two responses and maybe a backlink from someone.

This is a high-quality, high-impact approach that works – it adds genuine value to your link prospect’s sites, and also to your own.

Let me know how things go.

a backlink strategy for a niche website

Niche Site Step 3: My Backlink Strategy (and an early progress report)

In this post I’m going to divulge my backlink strategy for my niche site.

If you’ve been following my niche site challenge this far, you’ll know that I am not using any paid advertising methods to bring traffic to my niche site – this is pretty much the only rule of the challenge.

So, SEO is the main focus for my niche site, with an aim to get on the first page of Google for my primary keywords ‘pizza oven’ (for those just dropping-in on this post, my niche site is pizzaovenhub.com).

And as everyone knows, aside from on-site content optimisation, the key to good Google rankings is ultimately down to gaining quality, relevant links from other websites.

To do this properly, in a way that won’t lead to penalties from Google (like blog comment and forum spamming), it takes great content, a carefully thought-out strategy, and a lot of time spent putting that strategy in-place.

So, my last post discussed my content strategy and how I built some awesome, engaging, and relevant content for my niche site, and how I optimised this for search engines.

In this post, I’m going to discuss my backlink strategy for the niche site, and how I get this content noticed, shared, and linked-to by relevant websites.

Here goes . . .

My Backlink Strategy

My backlink strategy ultimately comprises 4 parts:

  1. Find relevant links
  2. Outreach, to gain those relevant links I’ve found
  3. Follow-up on outreach to maximise conversion
  4. Consistently repeat

So here’s the 4 steps in more detail:

1. Find Relevant Links

The easiest way to get links is to look for resource or links pages on relevant sites.

These are pages set-up purely with the intention of the website owner pointing his/her visitors to other useful websites. So it shows the openness of the website owner to sharing external resources, and it provides a perfect pitch for your own link to go here.

Brian Dean from Backlinko states in his SEO guide that contextual links are the best (links within posts and regular pages) – but these come more naturally from relationships and awareness of you and your brand. The resource and links pages are the quick wins to focus on when you’re starting-out.

During my research I’ve seen a lot of long-winded and fancy ways to find these sort of links.

But I just went with a very basic approach – I Googled various keywords related to pizza ovens plus ‘resources’ or ‘links’ at the end. So for example:

Pizza resources

Pizza links

Firewood resources

Firewood links

And so on . . .

After all, you’re ultimately looking for high-quality, relevant links in Google’s eyes – so what better way to verify that sites are high-quality and relevant to your field than running some Google searches on your keywords, and outreaching to those that show on the first page of results.

It pretty much guarantees both relevancy and quality in Google’s eyes – otherwise those sites wouldn’t show in the first page of results.

I did try using the -inurl: search technique for resources and links pages, so for example, searching:

pizza -inurl: resources

This is ultimately telling Google ‘I want you to show me all websites related to pizza, that have the word resources in the URL’ – with an aim to just drawing-back only resource pages (rather than sites that contain phrases like ‘the number 1 pizza resource’ and so on).

But it tended not to bring back anywhere near as many relevant results as just searching ‘pizza resources’. Maybe my niche just isn’t suited to this type of search. Anyone else have trouble with this? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Top Tip: Make sure you use an incognito browser window, and sign-out of any Google accounts when you’re searching for backlink opportunities. This ensures the search results aren’t skewed by your previous browsing history or preferences, and Google bases results purely on relevance and site quality.

As a general rule, for the results on each related keyword, I’d run down all relevant websites on the first page only, and contact them all one-by-one.

Here’s how I did it:

2. Outreach, to gain those relevant links I’ve found

UPDATE (04-11-16): Tom Watts from Blog Traffic Builder got in-touch after reading this post and recommended a software to make outreach (and following-up outreach leads) much quicker and easier. The software is called Ninja Outreach, and you can see how it works in my video review here.

You’ll see from this that the software is great for some things, and worth checking out, but for other things, like the ‘broken link’ technique, it’s a little more difficult to use. So it’s still worth taking a look at the more manual method I adopted below.

Another tip I learned from Brian Dean’s SEO guide was to use the ‘broken link’ technique when doing outreach to websites – this delivers a much greater conversion than simply begging for a link to be placed on their site.

What is the ‘broken link technique’?

So, in summary, the broken link technique involves visiting a site’s resources or links page (the page where you are most likely to be able to gain a link), and checking to see which links on that page are broken.

When you find a broken link, you contact the owner of the site, and you now have something productive and useful for them to listen to (alongside your pitch for a link) – you’ve just identified an improvement that can be made on their website.

First things first then – how do you find out if a link is broken without tediously clicking on each link to test?

Well, there’s an awesome free extension for the Google Chrome browser that automatically runs down all the links on a page and generates a quick report on which ones are okay and which ones are broken.

It highlights broken links in red, so you can copy the link and send in an email to the website owner.

Here’s the link to the free extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/check-my-links

And here’s what a check looks like once complete:

a screenshot showing how broken links look using the Chrome extension

So once you’ve found your broken link on a relevant site’s resources or links page, you’ve got your ‘in’ and it’s time to approach the site owner with what you’ve found (and a pitch for your own link to go on there).

The reason the broken link method is so effective is that it’s harder for someone to ignore a broken link on their site than it is to ignore a begging email asking for a link. If they care anything about their website and their own Google rankings (which they should, if they are showing up on the first page of results for your searches), then they will just have to access their content management system, or contact their developers, to correct it.

And while they’re already in there correcting the link, it becomes 100x easier for them to either replace the broken link with the link you have proposed to them, or to just drop your link on the page somewhere relevant (just as a thank you for spotting the broken link!).

So, here’s the template email I used to contact the site owners about their broken links. I pitched an article to my prospects, but I would imagine tools/calculators (if you have any of these on your site) would work great for resources/links pages too:

Hi (name, if you can find it on the site)
I stumbled on your awesome (genre of website) resource page today. Great work!

Just wanted you to know that I found a couple of dead links:

(Provide links here)

Also, I actually just finished my new article over at (URL of your article on your niche site) that contains some great information on how to (what the article is about).

It might make a nice addition to your resources page or a share elsewhere on your site.

Either way, keep up the great work you’re doing with the site.

Thanks

(Your name)

With this template I hit a conversion of between 7-10% across the sites I found through my keyword searches – which I think is pretty respectable. So for every full page of 10 Google results, I’m just about getting 1 link at the moment.
And to get this conversion up further, I do this . . .

3. Follow-up on outreach to maximise conversion

Sounds simple, but if you’re hitting the outreach hard, it can be difficult to remember who you’ve contacted and who you haven’t – so that you can make follow-ups to your prospects.

This becomes especially difficult if you’re using a mix of both on-site contact forms and emails via your own email client – as then you don’t have one centralised point to pick-up on all the emails you’ve sent.

The way I manage this is by dropping the web address or email address of each site into a spreadsheet – a simple spreadsheet, and just one field for each contact.

When I was a lot younger, consulting for a business, I remember they used a follow-up system for customers and leads, and it was so clunky and unnecessarily complex that it just didn’t warrant the time invested entering all the data, just so follow-ups could take place.

So, now I avoid any software or complex solutions when it comes to follow-ups – your time should be spent on the outreach and follow-up itself, not on unnecessary data entry to try to facilitate these things.

If you get a positive response and a backlink from your lead/contact, then highlight their field in green, so you know not to chase them any longer.

The only other useful field would be a date to show the date you last contacted the prospect – so you aren’t bombarding them with requests every day, or alternatively, you aren’t leaving it too long to follow-up to the point where they have forgotten about your original outreach email.

Here’s my email template for follow-ups to your backlink prospects (though I haven’t used this myself yet as it has been less than a week since I sent the initial emails out – I’m planning to leave at least 1-2 weeks between emails to the same prospect):

 Hey (name)
I just wanted to follow-up on my last email to you about the broken link on your site.
Did you manage to get this fixed?
It tends to have a negative effect on your search engine rankings when you have broken links on your site – and I found your site really useful, so am keen to help you stay visible for other people like me to find you.
Also, did you check out my link? Here it is again if you missed it: (URL of article on your niche site). It shows you how to (what the article is about).
Feel free to drop this in your resources/links page when you go in to correct your broken link, if you find it helpful.
Keep up the great work – I keep on coming back to your site.
Thanks
(Your name)

This message uses a mix of fear and flattery to help provoke the website owner to take action on the broken link, and to consider your link for their site.

You can repeat this email a few times over if you hear nothing back over the course of a few weeks.

Backlinking is a rather laborious numbers game, so persistence and consistency are key. Which leads me to the 4th and final part of my backlinking strategy . . .

4. Consistently repeat
Repeat the above 3 techniques as many times as possible.

Think semantic (those that are similar to, but don’t include your primary keyword) and derivative (those that include your primary keyword) keywords when searching for relevant sites, and that should give you a nice diverse set of websites to approach for links.

For me, with pizzaovenhub.com a semantic keyword could be ‘firewood’ and a derivative keyword could be ‘wood fired pizza oven’.

With backlinking, there comes a time where your website will have enough search engine visibility and awareness that you’ll naturally gain backlinks from this – it’s a self-reinforcing principle, backlinks gain rankings, which in-turn raise awareness and this attracts more backlinks naturally.

But we’re right at the beginning of this principle, where no awareness or rankings currently exist, so we have to ‘force’ backlinks with outreach initially to get ranked, and then things should naturally reinforce from here forwards.

It is tedious, and there are other things I’d rather be doing, but the fact is, if you don’t encourage backlinks, you’ll never get ranked well, and you’ll therefore never get substantial traffic and revenue from your niche site.

This is a point in your niche site’s progress where consistency and persistence are absolutely key to success – so keep at it, and the results will come. I’ll be documenting my progress as I go so you can see how this hard work pays off eventually.

If you are building your own niche site, there’s plenty to be getting on with in terms of using the ‘broken link’ outreach technique.

If you have any other tips and tricks when it comes to outreach, please share them in the comments below.

Here’s a (slightly premature) progress report on my niche site pizzovenhub.com . . .

An Early Progress Report

It’s only been a couple of days since I started my outreach, and I have already gained 2 Twitter/Facebook shares.

I do have 3 solid leads from this too, who are willing to share future content should they see fit on their sites. These are people I can share new blog posts with, and also present guest post opportunities down the line when I start exploring this technique too.

My rank for ‘pizza oven hub’ has also jumped from no 8 to no 3 on Google – so I must be doing something right with the things I’ve been introducing, although still no ranking to show for my target keywords ‘pizza oven’ – some solid backlinks should change this.

I’ll post a full progress report 1 month from now to show you what has changed with my niche site – and I’ll hopefully be able to accompany these with income reports from the site, who knows!

Stay tuned for more.

My Niche Site Content Strategy

Niche Site Step 2: My Content Strategy

So, last week I discovered my niche for my niche site project – pizza ovens!

And the past week has pretty much been dominated by research and typing-up content for the site.

There’s so much to know about them, I really didn’t think there was so much to learn about pizza ovens. Who knew!

But aside from becoming a pizza oven expert, I now have a fully-developed niche site on the subject – all in under 8 days!

What’s more, the site has already been indexed in Google and shows on the first page for the words in the domain name (which isn’t a million miles from my primary target keyword), so I’m super-pleased about that.

Often, with new websites, you will experience something called ‘The Google Dance’ where your rankings bounce around for several weeks before they settle down and you start to see some stability in your rankings.

I’m not sure whether showing on the first page for these terms is part of this dance, or because the variation on the primary keyword (which you’ll see later in this post when I show you the domain I chose) makes it quite obscure for a search term, and there is so little competition that this is our long-term placement.

Either way, my main focus is on ranking for the primary keyword term ‘pizza oven’ – which gets over 22,000 searches per month via Google alone – because then I should start to see a good percentage of this traffic hitting the site and generating revenue.

All that remains to get to this stage is to promote the site with some smart backlinking and outreach work. I’ll go over my backlinking strategy in my next post.

For now, I’m going to announce my niche site domain, and I’m going to tell you all about how I developed the content for the site and my thinking behind it.

My Domain Name

With my chosen primary keyword being ‘pizza oven’ I wanted to get this term right at the start of my domain.

Why?

Because I know from experience that this can influence your ranking for the keyword quite massively.

I co-own a website called storagepricecomparison.co.uk. This was a niche site I set-up back in 2012 when I had very little knowledge of SEO, and I haven’t touched it since it was first established.

Any SEO techniques I implemented at this time (apart from the longstanding effect of the domain name containing keywords and on-site optimisation for those same keywords) will now be way out-of-date anyway.

So ultimately, the only SEO it currently employs that is effective in today’s organic search environment is having keywords in the domain and keywords in the site content. That’s about it!

Yet this site still ranks no 1 spot in Google for the term ‘storage price comparison’.

This isn’t a highly searched term. Only 40 searches per month in fact. But the paid search environment for this term is highly competitive, with the average bid (according to Google’s Keyword Planner at the time of writing this) being around £10.41 per click! That’s pricey!

It also ranks well for other derivative keywords, so gets a decent bit of traffic – enough to charge storage companies to list their storage sites on there and earn an income from Adsense – it generates around £200pm, which isn’t too bad for a site with very little SEO work and no ongoing maintenance or costs associated with it.

I expect my Pizza Oven niche site to do much better than this given the things I now know about SEO that I didn’t when I started storagepricecomparison, and also the fact that this niche gets much more searches every month, so should deliver much more traffic and revenue potential.

So, back to the point about my domain name – I think it’s really important with niche sites to include the primary keyword in the domain name. It has worked for me in the past, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t help with this site too.

My domain name is therefore:

pizzaovenhub.com

Why the ‘hub’?

Well, as expected pizzoven.com was already taken, and as were most of the other TLDs (Top Level Domains ie .net, .org, .co.uk, and so on).

So I had to do a little brainstorming to figure out a slightly longer, but still memorable, domain.

Google likes a brand. They don’t particularly like a domain name that’s artificially stuffed with keywords.

So I wanted to avoid names like ‘thepizzaoven.com’ and so on, because it didn’t feel like it was representing a brand.

I used an awesome tool over on namemesh.com to view alternative, available domain names.

I like this tool because it has an SEO results box that shows you alternative .com domains that still show your full primary keyword, plus another small, relevant word either before or after this term.

content strategy

It was in these results that I found the name ‘pizzaovenhub.com’ – I liked the fact that it represented what I wanted the site to be, a hub for everything and anything to do with pizza ovens, and I also liked that the word ‘hub’ represents the middle of a wheel and pizzas look kind of wheel-like.

The second choice was ‘pizzaovenboss.com’ which gave me ideas for branding with a mafia-boss type character, but aside from this being pretty cheesy (excuse the pizza pun), I just preferred pizzaovenhub.com because of its relevance to the concept.

So there you go! That’s where my new niche site lives.

Over the past week I’ve bulked it out with content, a logo, an ebook, some ads, and a few important plugins/functions in the backend. More on this in the next couple of sections.

Before you write any content on your site . . .

If you have never set up a site before, but want to start a niche website business by following me through this entire process, then a great place to start would be my How to Build a Website in One Day video – which covers the basics of buying your domain, hosting, and setting-up your website using WordPress.

This video is just 1/28th of my full Udemy course, and it may be worthwhile taking a look at the full course before you start your own niche website business so you cover the basics of running a business, and get prepared ahead of setting-up your site. You can find the full course and enroll here.

Once you’re up-and-running with your WordPress website and hosting, and you have your initial theme in-place, there’s a couple of things to do before you write a single word of content for your niche site.

This involves installing and activating several plugins on your new WordPress site. Here’s my list of essential plugins:

  • All-in-One SEO Pack
  • Contact Form by Supsystic
  • Google Analytics
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Mailchimp for WordPress

And here’s why I install these on almost every site I set-up.

All-in-One SEO Pack

This is a great SEO plugin that ensures all your pages and posts are properly geared for the search engines – providing an opportunity to enter a meta title, meta description, and other important bits of information for every piece of content you are about to write.

I accidentally forgot to install this ahead of writing the content for the Pizza Oven Hub site, so I had to go back through every page entering this additional info afterwards – so make sure you install this ahead of your content to save yourself this time.

This plugin also enables you to turn robots.txt on for certain pages at the click of a button (for instance terms and privacy pages that you don’t want indexing by Google), introduce nofollow attributes to links on a page, and plenty of other cool features that would otherwise take a little time to introduce – All in One SEO pack makes all options available when you’re creating your content.

Contact form by Supsystic

There’s a few contact form plugins out there but this is the one I choose to use because it’s free and has tons of customization options to make the form suit your site.

It’s quick and easy to use too!

Google Analytics

Perhaps the simplest of all plugins to set-up. All this does is provide one field via the ‘settings’ menu on ‘Google Analytics’, and this is where you enter your Analytics account reference number.

By doing this, you avoid having to manually paste your analytics code into all pages, or into your header page. It’s much easier and quicker to do it using this plugin, and it ensures it’s done properly and placed between the correct tags.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin automatically generates a sitemap for your site, making it much easier for search engines to crawl and index all pages.

This is something I install at the start, but I don’t look at it or get my sitemap link until I’ve created all my initial content for the site.

I then take the sitemap link, and drop this into my Google Webmaster Tools account for the website. I did this just yesterday and today I noticed my site indexed with Google and ranking for the term in my domain ‘pizza oven hub’ – and I think submitting the sitemap had something to do with this.

Mailchimp for WordPress

No matter what your monetisation strategy is, I always believe that lead capture should play a role in your overall marketing.

You don’t even need to be capturing email addresses to pitch a product or service to people in order to achieve direct sales. You could just collect addresses so you can keep people up-to-date with new content you post on your site, or news you’d like to share with them – it creates lifetime value from a single visit, and is always worth implementing.

So, starting by installing this plugin enables you to link directly to your Mailchimp account and set-up a form (just a single form, if you want more than this you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version of the plugin), that funnels that data entry (names and email addresses) directly into your Mailchimp lists.

Now all you need to do is think about your lead capture strategy ie what offer will you provide people with in order to get them to enter their details?

More on this in the next section.

Now for the content . . .

I’m going to admit that I cheated slightly with this.

Not by copying and pasting any content, of course – this would be a big NO-NO as far as the search engines are concerned. They only want to see unique, fresh content in order to rank you highly.

No.

Instead, I cheated because I copied the content principles of Pat’s securityguardtraininghq site by right clicking on his homepage content and hitting ‘inspect’ – so I could see exactly what header tags, picture titles, and other techniques, that aren’t completely easy to see on the face of the site, he had used.

Pat’s always very transparent when it comes to his projects and business ventures, but he just didn’t cover his niche site into the level of detail as to cover things like header tags and other on-site optimisation techniques.

So I scratched beneath the surface so I didn’t have to re-invent the wheel when it came to understanding the right level of keyword density and other on-site optimisation.

In terms of what I copied from Pat’s niche site, here’s some basic principles I learnt that I applied to my niche site content, and that you can apply to yours too:

  • Only use H1 tags once on your site. Use them on your homepage, and make sure you include your primary keyword in them
  • Use H2 tags for the remaining headers throughout your site, and try to include a good mix of derivative keywords in these for variety
  • In your opening home page paragraph, include your primary keyword, and use <strong> tags to show emphasis on this term
  • Label all image files by your primary keyword or keyword derivatives, and use alt tags with the same keywords
  • Use no more than 2 primary keyword mentions in your home page meta title, and your home page meta description – otherwise it will start to look too unnatural

You don’t need to rigidly stick to the above rules, they are just what I discovered by looking at Pat’s niche site code. And I’m sure Google won’t be penalizing sites for using the H1 tag on other subpages on a site for instance, but as I said earlier, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with these techniques – Pat has shown massive success in the rankings for his niche, so I chose to replicate his exact formula in terms of tags and keyword density/placement.

In terms of the content direction and strategy, I came up with this from scratch.

My chosen niche is a million miles from Pat’s anyway, so copying his entire direction with content wouldn’t have made sense.

I decided to focus my static content around the types of pizza oven available. During my research I discovered that there are 4 main types of pizza oven that people can buy – so I set out to explain the pros and cons of each type of oven in relation to one another, so that people researching which type to buy or build had all the information they need to make a decision.

Beyond this, I also created a free ebook that shows people how they can build their own pizza oven – this is my lead capture tool that links into my Mailchimp plugin.

I discovered, during my keyword research for the site, that ‘build a pizza oven’ and other similar phrases were hitting almost 1,000 searches per month – not a massive amount, but it is something that requires a lot of information and there isn’t that much good content out there to show you how to build your own (just Youtube videos with several hundred thousand views, but that fail to mention any measurements or materials used).

So this was the perfect opportunity to hit on this related niche, and provide a piece of useful content in exchange for the visitor’s email address.

I can then use this email list to remarket pizza oven accessories to via an Amazon affiliate link, perhaps upsell other information products around pizza ovens or pizza recipes (either my own content or become an affiliate for someone elses) – whatever. The possibilities are endless once you have accumulated a large list, and you know exactly what your list are interested in.

Then I went on to create a blog page, where it will show a whole range of posts that I will continue to add to over the coming weeks (currently it only has 3 – so it needs more content in this area) centered around semantic keywords (similar, but not including my primary keyword term, like ‘pizza cooker’) and derivative keywords (ones containing my primary keyword phrase but amongst others, like ‘how to build your own pizza oven’ or ‘DIY pizza oven’).

Plus an About page, Contact page, Pizza Oven Recipes section – with recipes displayed on separate pages (to show off the amazing food you can cook in a pizza oven)*, a ‘Buy a Pizza Oven’ Amazon affiliate store, and a Privacy policy page.

*I used a great free plugin to build the recipe page structure called Ziplist Recipe Plugin – well worth a look if you’re looking to build a niche site that incorporates or is centered around recipes and food.

And that’s that!

If you are following this series of posts around my niche site development because you’re also going through your own niche site development journey, then please don’t be shy – drop a comment below and share your journey with us. I’d love to hear your techniques too, and if you think I could have done anything better with my own niche site.

I look forward to hearing from you.