I bet you had this experience at least once in your life. You stumble onto something by chance, and somehow this becomes your habit, and ultimately it changes your life. I don’t like saying a single thing changed my life, but Niche Pursuits podcast definitely put me on a different path. For years I thought about going into affiliate marketing and making money online with AdSense. For years I thought about buying profitable websites (even after I got burned on my first try, and more on that some other time). But after I listened to a few episodes I was hooked. Driving in my car and listening to all those people that left their jobs, or just making some additional money from their hobbies, it was super inspiring!
Today you get to meet Spencer Haws, host at the Niche Pursuits podcast, owner at NichePursuits.com website (highly recommended), and the founder of Long Tail Pro and owner of many niche websites.
I can’t remember how I found out about Niche Pursuits, but after being bombarded with success and topics that were music to my ears, I started investing, building and improving some of my old niche websites on my own. It was love at first sight and I was hooked.
Spencer is also no stranger to Amazon FBA. He started that business from scratch and selling it for nearly half a million dollars. In his podcast, Spencer goes deep, and I have to say, it is super weird when you are listening to a podcast episode of someone starting a business, taking it to thousands of dollars of monthly profit, and ultimately selling it for what some would describe as a dream amount.
I’ve asked Spencer to start us in this series of “How to build a profitable website” because, in my opinion, he is the “niche selection guy”. Spencer went so far as to create a tool called Long Tail Pro to help him find the keywords in the niches he wants to fill. These keywords have low competition and are easier to rank for, bringing you much needed first visitors.
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Goran: Spencer, thank you so much for doing this, let’s kick things off from the start – niche selection. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe that niche selection is the single most important thing when starting a project. I am sure that readers have different thoughts on how to go about this, but perhaps you can shed some light on the subject. In my opinion, it is at the intersection of “supply and demand”, meaning how big of a demand there is currently online, and how good I am at meeting that demand. Do you have some strategies, tactics, and tools that can help with that?
Spencer Haws: I agree that niche selection is very important. The ideal niche can be found is at the intersection of these 3 things: low competition keywords, money in the niche, and your interests.
If you can find something that meets all 3 of those, that’s ideal.The ideal niche can be found is at the intersection of these 3 things: low competition keywords, money in the niche, and your interests.Click To Tweet
Goran: I suppose that Long Tail Pro and SEMrush can mostly assist with finding low competition keywords and competition in general. Do these tools also help with finding out how much money is in a particular niche? How do we know which 1000 searches are worth more?
Spencer Haws: The tools can help you find out if there is money in the niche, but you also need to use your intuition. First, Long Tail Pro has a column for how much “advertiser competition” there is. If there are lots of advertisers, you can be sure that there is plenty of “money in the niche”.
Another way is to use your intuition. Is the keyword product focused? Are there products or services being sold on Amazon or other places where you can be an affiliate? For example, “how to tie a tie” might get lots of searches, but there’s not real money to be made there…since my intuition tells me that the searcher just wants to learn how to tie a tie, not buy a tie.
Goran: Moving from there, I think that psychology plays a huge part. Let’s say you picked a niche you are passionate about with a ton of demand, and competition is not so cutthroat, but after 3,6 or 12 months (depending on the individual) of abysmal results you are thinking about throwing in the towel. How do you turn things around? Do you improve your “niche seeking skills” or do we focus on learning where we missed the point or something else?
Spencer Haws: I think it’s important to remember that if you are trying to rank in Google, it can take almost 6 months before a new site will gain any real traction. So, if someone is throwing in the towel before that amount of time, they are potentially wasting all the time and effort they’ve already put in.
I would focus on how you can fix what you already have and see if you’ve missed something. Perhaps you need to see what your competitors are doing. Is your content longer and better than theirs? Do you need to focus on acquiring a few more links? Do you need to consider alternate traffic sources such as Pinterest or other social media?
Goran: In one of your podcast episodes you share how you bought a website that was getting traffic mostly from Pinterest. What are your thoughts on diversifying your traffic from Google to various social media, your email list, paid traffic? Should we improve our skills in one area until we reach superiority and grow from there? In line with that, do you believe that some people are more “social” and get better results on Instagram, while some B2B companies are better tailored for search traffic?
Spencer Haws: I think you should only take on tasks that you are able to complete. It’s possible for someone to get overwhelmed and perhaps not get very good at anything if they attempt all strategies: ranking in Google, link building, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, paid ads, etc.
So, I would only attempt what you are able to feasibly accomplish or can afford to outsource to others.
For many people just producing great content for SEO and a little bit of link building is all they can handle. For others, they might be able to add Pinterest or other social strategies. I think so much depends on the individual and the time and money that they have.
Goran: What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about a niche that’s really competitive with not so many long tail keywords with a low KC score? Find the best ones (although hard) and keep punching above your weight until you get somewhere, or picking a different niche, a different spin or go for something completely different?
Spencer Haws: I would personally go with a different niche, but that’s just me and my personality. Some people are able to stick it out for a couple years before seeing many results in a competitive niche, but I’m not sure I could do that.
If I don’t see many keywords that are low competition in the niche, I would strongly consider moving on.If I don’t see many keywords that are low competition in the niche, I would strongly consider moving on.Click To Tweet
Goran: Do you think there are some personality types that do better than others? Or that there are some personality types that just can’t live this lifestyle and have to have a boss in order to function?
Spencer Haws: Sure, I don’t think everyone can be an entrepreneur. It takes someone that does well directing their own activities. If you are not self-motivated, you likely won’t see much success in this business.
Goran: What lead you to the idea of ranking for the low hanging fruit when you were starting out, the long tail keywords that weren’t getting many searches? And how has that changed your perception of creating niche websites?
Spencer Haws: I had created a couple of sites where I didn’t really understand how Google worked and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting much traffic. This led me down the rabbit hole of reading lots of blogs and other forums.
Somewhere along the line, I decided to just try super low search volume and of course low competition type keywords to see what would happen. To my surprise, I started ranking quickly for keywords and getting much more traffic than I expected.
This revelation was really what led me to create “niche sites” in the first place, and I still follow this strategy, now many years later.I decided to just try super low search volume and of course low competition type keywords to see what would happen. To my surprise, I started ranking quickly for keywords and getting much more traffic than I expected.Click To Tweet
Goran: Being so long in the lifestyle of creating, buying and managing niche websites, and seeing the changes that come and go (PBN, the importance of authority, the rise of the mobile-social-local) where do you see this going, and how do we stay ahead of the curve?
Spencer Haws: Google is clearly moving towards higher quality and more search query intent results. So, I do think it’s important to focus on quality content and really doing a great job of answering the searcher’s questions.
I think that some searches will get more and more difficult for the average person to rank for (like Medical questions for example). However, the comparison, reviews, and other typical affiliate type queries will continue to be filled by affiliate type content in my opinion.
While I don’t know how long Google will exist in its current form, I do think it will be a while. At the same time, the smart entrepreneur would also be building up their own audience via an email list and other methods to ensure that if Google ever changes how much traffic your site is getting, you still have an audience.
I’ve been an online entrepreneur for more than a decade. Back in 2011, I sold my first small business. 500 Startups alumni. I love to read and write in every shape or form. Founder of WhoAPI and webmaster.ninja and website investor. I also blog on Duskic.com.