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Creating Profitable Niche Sites with Spencer Haws

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Niche marketing has turned into it’s own little industry and is making a ton of money for people who really focus in on it. I like to talk about creating niche sites on the blog a lot because it’s a great way for people who are just starting out online and a way for them to potentially find success without having to put up a lot of money. While a big budget is what you need to create and drive ad campaigns, with niche sites it’s different in that you spend your efforts on finding quality niche markets with high profits and low competition, which can result in some nice earnings.

Spencer Haws has become very well known for his success in the niche marketing space and also for launching his awesome Long Tail Pro software. Being an avid user of the software and often reading his site, I thought he would make for a perfect fit in this week’s affiliate marketer interview.

1.) Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you first got started in the world of online marketing?

Spencer Haws BioWell, I’m a happily married man, father of 3, and an entrepreneur!  I currently own a portfolio of niche websites that was my first big success in online marketing.  I now also own the software Long Tail Pro, which has been very successful for me as well.

I got started creating websites around 2005.  I thought I was going to become the next big financial blogger, but as it turned out, I knew nothing about blogging or how to get traffic to my site.  The site fizzled, but I began to explore the world of SEO and affiliate marketing for the next few years.  Most of the time I just spent an hour or 2 late at night after work and after the kids were in bed.  But in 2008, I FINALLY figured out how search engines work.  The light bulb really went on for me when I truly understood how keyword research worked and the importance of finding low competition keywords.

This discovery and skill set of researching low competition in Google led me to building a lots of small niche websites that ranked quickly in Google and gave me the income I needed to quit my job in 2011 and pursue online publishing full-time.

2.) What is it about niche sites that drew your interest and what was your first successful niche site?

I love the thrill of the hunt with niche sites!  I sometimes feel like a gold miner looking for some rich pay dirt.  Researching keywords and analyzing how difficult it might be to rank in Google really has become enjoyable to me.  I can often find a keyword and know with almost 100% certainly that I can rank in the top 10 of Google.  Finding the right keyword is like finding a gold nugget lying on the ground. (However, this skill took a long time to develop).

My first successful site was about worm farms!  Yep, worm farms.  This first site (along with a second one I built at about the same time), changed my perspective.  This was my first time to target a simple keyword that I knew I could rank for.  The site starting making me about $20 to $30 a month whether I ever looked at it or not (passive).  So, while it wasn’t a big monetary success, it was a HUGE motivational success.  I discovered that these simple sites could be profitable for me, and set me on my journey to building many more.

3.) How many niche sites would you say you’ve created since you’ve started, and how many actually survive and make money long term?

I’ve created close to 300 niche sites.  I have around 150 sites that remain.  And some of those I may be letting go as well.  I went through a period where I built WAY too many sites, too quickly.  I got overly excited and actually set a goal to create 100 sites in one month and accomplished it.  However, because of my rush to just built sites (I had outsourced help doing a lot of the work), the quality was lacking.  Most of those sites from that month have died.

Niche Pursuits Blog

4.) The recent Google updates have really hurt a lot of exact match domains and niche sites. What have you done to continue to make money in this space and not get hurt by Google?

I was not immune to the Google updates.  Many of the small sites that I built were not the quality that they should have been and were indeed hit by Penguin (I wasn’t as affected by Panda or the EMD update). Many of my bigger sites were not hit.  This changed my mindset.  Instead of focusing on number of sites, I’ve started focusing on quality of sites built.  Rather than trying to crank out 20 sites in a month, I might focus on 1 site in a month.  So, while I still currently have 150+ sites, this number is actually going down as I allow some of the sites only making a few dollars a month to expire and focus on building sites that can make a much higher profit margin.  I found that focusing on quality content and quality link building helps sites to stay more Google friendly.

5.) I’m happy to say that Long Tail Pro is one of my absolute favorite pieces of software out there. I love keyword research and the stats and info it provides for me is just awesome. How did you decide to develop the software and how long did it take before going live with it?

Long Tail Pro Keyword CompetitionI wasn’t satisfied with the other keyword research tools on the market.  So, wanted to fix my own problem AND seeing that there was a market opportunity, I decided to hire someone to develop Long Tail Pro for me.  The initial version of Long Tail Pro took about 2 months to develop.  However, I actually went back and hired a new person (better quality) to redevelop the software – which is the version you see today.  This newer version took almost six months to develop and is constantly updated every single month.

6.) You recently launched your own step by step case study for building a niche site. How has building a step by step process and having everyone follow along help you with the building process?

Having others following along publicly as I build a niche site has made me very cautious!  I think this is a good thing. For each step of the process, I have to think twice about setting a good example and making sure I am doing things and sharing processes that will be the most valuable to others.

7.) Can you give my blog readers an interesting and somewhat easy and profitable niche / long tail keyword to rank for and how you might map out the content/ranking process?

I try not to make a habit of giving away my keywords!  And I’m not going to reveal anything new here, but the keyword I’ve picked for my public project is “best survival knife“.  Essentially, what I did for this keyword and what I do for all potential keywords/sites is decide how I can make my primary content better than other sites that are already ranking in Google.  For this particular keyword I noticed that the sites ranking were just listing their top 10 favorite knives and essentially saying they were the best.  Well, I felt like it would be more valuable to the end user to let them see all their choices of survival knives in one spot…then allow them to decide.  I accomplished this by gathering all the data on 50 survival knives and creating an original chart that users could use to compare and contrast.

This is just one example of how you can make your content better than others.  Once you do this, the link building process becomes easier.  Others are more willing to link to you if they see value.

8.) Lots of people are wanting to get started with their own business online and hopefully make some money in the process. What would you recommend for someone who only had $100 to get started with?

How to Start a Business with $100My advice for someone just getting started out would be to try to learn by doing.  I read all the blogs and forums but didn’t really learn anything until I got my feet wet.  So, go out and do some keyword research, buy a domain and get a site up and running.  The $100 might be spent on a unique theme, a custom logo, or original content – but overall, just get started and you’ll learn much more than if you were to just buy a course or ebook.

9.) Do you have anything else exciting in the works that you would like to share, and what’s the best way for someone to get in contact with you?

I don’t have anything to announce just yet.  But I will say that in addition to the public niche site project that I’m doing on my blog, I also expect to do another public project.  Something that is not building niche websites, but completely different.  In fact, I’m going to let my blog readers suggest and vote on a public project (i.e. Niche Pursuit) for me to work on.

The best way for people to stay in touch with me is on my blog at: NichePursuits.com
On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NichePursuitscom/209882025692724
Or Twitter at: https://twitter.com/@nichepursuits

A special thanks to Spencer for taking the time to answer our affiliate marketing questions. If you’d like to get in touch with John, be sure to do so through is social networking contacts above.

Don’t forget to also check out our previous weekly interviews.

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Meet the Entrepreneurs and Experts of Affiliate Summit West 17

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Thousands of internet marketers, entrepreneurs, content creators and brands will ascend upon Las Vegas this weekend for Affiliate Summit West 2017. Not only has Affiliate Summit become one of the largest affiliate and internet marketing conferences in the world today, it’s also one I’ve been closely associated with ever since the beginning. From it’s first conference in a small room in New York City with just a couple hundred people to now having more than 5,000+ attendees and conferences twice per year, it’s always been great to attend as both an attendee and speaker.

At the same time, it would be a huge mistake to discount Affiliate Summit as just another networking of marketing conference. The relationships, businesses and life experiences that are a result of the event is second to none — which I why I always recommend everyone to attend, no matter their current level of expertise.

By the way… if you are attending, don’t miss the awesome “How to Become a Millionaire Blogger” panel with myself, John Chow, John Rampton, and Syed Balkhi. It’s almost always standing room only, and rated as one of the highest attended and most valued sessions of Affiliate Summit.

Affiliate_Summit_West_2017_Agenda2_-_Affiliate_Summit

Over the years I’ve literally met thousands of people through the conference and built many powerful relationships and business opportunities as well. With each new year, new speakers, entrepreneurs, and bloggers will take the next step in becoming financially independent, starting a side business or simply changing the world in some way or another.

To help you not only get inspired for this year’s Affiliate Summit West conference but also get inspired with just a glimpse of the talent at this event, I wanted to highlight some of my previous podcast guests, who will also be speaking at #ASW17. Enjoy, and I hope to see you there!

Inspiring Stories and Marketing Tips from Affiliate Summit Speakers

Below you will find a list of speakers currently on the agenda for ASW 17. However, through my podcast I’ve interviewed more than 80 different industry experts… many of which who will be also attending the event in one way or another. Be sure to check out the full list of interviews here.

Shawn Collins and the Affiliate Summit Empire

Shawn Collins of Affiliate Summit

Shawn Collins the co-founder of Affiliate Summit, which has become the largest affiliate marketing conference in the world today.

I’ve been good friends with Shawn for a while now and we’ve both been able to experience the affiliate marketing industry completely transition and develop over the past 15+ years. We were both in attendance at the Affiliate Force cruise, which was one of the first attempts at an affiliate marketing conference, but knew it could be done better. At that point Shawn and Missy decided they could do it better and the rest is history!

John Chow, the Master of Blog Monetization

John Chow

John Chow is one of the most well-known and successful bloggers in the world. If you’ve ever Google’d “how to make money online” or “how to make money blogging”, you’ve probably come across his name and site several times.

The amazing thing about John Chow was that he was never supposed to make money with his blog in the first place. What was originally just going to be a blog on his personal life and what he ate for lunch, soon became a “money making case study”. As John learned new and exciting ways to monetize his blog content and audience, the money just kept rolling in.

Jump forward several years later and his blog is now generating over six-figures per month, and most of it recurring and automated through his amazing sales funnel system — all of which John talks about in this episode.

Rachel Honoway, From Intern to CEO

Rachel Honoway

Rachel Honoway is the CEO of For Me To Coupon. However it’s not her current position that we are focusing on, instead it’s the great journey that’s led her to where she is today.

The start of Rachel’s journey in the world of online marketing is nearly 20 years in the making. Rachel’s first job was at an internet marketing company called Kowabunga, where she first came in as an intern. As the company continued to grow in size, so did Rachel’s daily tasks and her job title. The company was soon acquired and Rachel was then managing more of the company than ever before. Once leaving Kowabunga, Rachel had a wide range of opportunities over the years before ending up at For Me To Coupon, where she is the CEO today — which is all discussed in this latest episode.

Syed Balkhi, the Wizard of WordPress

Syed Speaking at Fincon13

Syed Balkhi is not only a master at WordPress, but he is also an awesome entrepreneur.

Since an early age Syed has always had a passion for business and building success. This could be seen from the early years of his life when he was just a kid in Pakistan and selling greeting cards. Then later in life while in high school, Syed started developing sites of his own while quickly discovering what the internet had to offer.

Today Syed runs some of the most powerful and heavily trafficked sites in the world… and yes, they are all powered with WordPress!

Stephan Spencer and the Science of SEO

Stephan Spencer

Stephan Spencer is an SEO expert. He’s also the author of Google Power Search and co-author of The Art of SEO… so it’s safe to say he knows his stuff when it comes to SEO and ranking sites in the search results.

How sites rank in the search results can go all the way back to before 2000, which is when Stephan and his NetConcepts company started getting heavy into SEO services. The thing about SEO is that it’s always changing, so to be one of the best SEO experts in the industry, Stephan is continually at the forefront of the industry and connecting with some of the most successful experts, businesses, and brands in the world.

Geno Prussakov Shares his Affiliate Management Tips

Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov is an affiliate marketing expert, author, and international speaker.

In the world of the internet, being an expert is key. Geno has mastered the art of affiliate marketing and affiliate program management and through this expertise has been able to grow his personal brand and business at the same time. As the author of many best-selling books on affiliate marketing, and also haven spoke at 50+ different conferences on such topics, Geno is the voice many people turn to when looking for answers to their affiliate marketing questions.

Having trained thousands of marketing professionals through his various books and online blog, Geno also went on to create Affiliate Management Days, which is a conference solely focused on the art of successful affiliate program management.

Oliver Roup Wants to Make Every Link Intelligent and Valuable

Oliver Roup

Oliver Roup is the founder and CEO of VigLink, a company that helps content creators make money through the use of affiliate marketing, while not having to deal with all the complexities of individual tracking, manually creating links and joining multiple programs.

Before getting active in the online marketing space, Oliver had accumulated quite an exciting resume of previous work with Space X, Microsoft, Paul Allen and many others. However, what might be Oliver’s most exciting experience to date was taking his business at Viglink from an idea to the flourishing business it is today.

For Oliver, this isn’t something that would happen overnight. Instead, it was a long journey of meeting with investors and VCs, trying to convince them that his idea was worth their time and investment. After many failed attempts, Oliver finally found an investor that was interested and things started to move fast!

Years later and over $20 million dollars in funding to date, the company continues to grow and scale in size while also helping sites of all sizes make money with their content while also connecting them with some of the largest brands and advertisers in the world.

Russell Brunson and How to Create Killer Sales Funnels

Russell_Brunson_of_ClickFunnels

Russell Brunson is an entrepreneur and the founder of DotComSecrets and ClickFunnels.

While finishing up his last year in College, Russell wanted to figure out a way to make enough money so he could continue with his passion for wrestling and to take care of himself and his girlfriend. After dabbling in the online marketing space and going through various failed projects, Russell discovered that one of the most successful ways to make money online was through the use of ebooks, guides and selling information. While messing around with some friends, Russell wanted to create a potato gun and went to the internet to find out how to create one. Once he found that there was nothing out there, he quickly threw one together and made a little course of his own on how to do the same.

Jump forward several years and today you will find Russell Brunson with all of his attention focused on ClickFunnels, a WYSIWYG editor and seamless way to create high converting landing pages and sales funnels. Not only has ClickFunnels become a huge success, it’s also taught Russell how to grow and scale a company, while also learning how to remove distractions and only focusing on what matters most.

John Rampton and Living the Dream in Silicon Valley

John Rampton

John Rampton is an online entrepreneur who has become a master at pay per click marketing, but even more importantly — making connections and networking with the right people.

I first met John Rampton several years back when he came up to me and asked for an interview while at Affiliate Summit. Since then we just seemed to click and started working on various projects together. In addition to being the Managing Editor of Search Engine Journal, John’s writing can also be found on Forbes, HuffingtonPost, Entrepreneur and many other top media outlets and news sources.

One of the major reasons for John’s success in the world of online marketing can be attributed to his outgoing attitude, willingness to help others and talking with just about everyone he meets. Each of these are all required skills for making it in the world of business and forming new partnerships. With all of this in mind, it only made sense for him to leave his home state of Utah and make the big move to Silicon Valley, CA — the central economic focal point for everything internet!

Thomas Smale and How to Buy and Sell Websites

Thomas_Smale

Thomas Smale is the co-founder of FE International, a company that was founded in 2010 that focuses on website brokering for mid-market online businesses.

Back in 2009-2010 Thomas wanted to get involved in the world of online marketing, but with little technical experience, his options were limited. It was then that he fell upon the concept of buying and selling websites for himself. With only a few hundred dollars at a time, Thomas began buying and flipping websites and getting quite good at it in the process. As his reputation and experience in this space started to grow, so did requests from other individuals asking for his support in selling their own websites — thus, a new business venture begins!

Today Thomas is the co-founder of FE International, which has offices in two different countries and 11 team members — all with the focus on website brokering and mastering the art of buying and selling websites.

See you at Affiliate Summit West!

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10 Strategies to Take Your Facebook Marketing to the Next Level

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How should brands that rely on Facebook marketing shift strategy in light of Facebook’s latest newsfeed update (which makes brand pages more dependent on users sharing posts with friends)?

Facebook, with over 1.7 billion users, is a powerful marketing platform for any business. It allows you to reach consumers on a platform that they are already using every day.

But when users told Facebook that they wanted to see more stories from friends and less promotional content, Facebook implemented a news feed update that gave them just that. So what does that mean for your marketing efforts?

Facebook Marketing

Businesses now need to work harder to ensure that their content is shareable rather than promotional. We asked ten entrepreneurs from YEC to share their best tips to ensure that your content still makes it on the news feed.

1. Be the Supplier for News Breakers

Step back and think about the sharing behavior of your own friends. They always want to be the first to share content that others have not already seen. Be fast and be first to break new stories relevant to your audience. Your Facebook page fans are more likely to share exclusive and engaging content to their own personal audiences if they feel it’s fresh and new.

– Anthony SaladinoKitchen Cabinet Kings

2. Stop Selling and Start Engaging

Unless you want to pay Facebook to promote your content, you need to push more content that your audience is likely to share. The more shares and likes you drive, the more reach you get with your content. With Facebook’s recent change, the key is to stop using Facebook to sell and instead use it to educate, entertain and engage your audience.

– Kristopher JonesLSEO.com

3. Pay Facebook

Facebook is a public company. Any updates to its newsfeed algorithm are meant to help the company maximize its return to shareholders. My advice? Play the game. Pay Facebook its advertising dollars to ensure your content gets discovered. The cost to create content (designers, copywriters, etc.) is usually more than advertising. Budget a little extra for Facebook ads to produce your best content ROI.

– Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

4. Embed Interactivity

Reduce the number of links that you post on your page and focus on embedding content – articles and videos – into Facebook instead. Since Facebook users prefer to stay on Facebook, giving them content without sending them away will help to guarantee they actually share your content, which will then place you in front of other audiences. Share stories that are informative, not promotional.

– Marcela De VivoBrilliance

5. Focus on Proven Tactics That Yield More Shares

Tactics like video content and helpful advice are some of the most commonly shared type of posts, so businesses should redirect their content strategy toward these tactics if they haven’t done so already.

– Peter DaisymeDue Invoicing

6. Diversify Your Marketing Strategies

It is not a good idea to be solely dependent on just one marketing platform. In this fast-paced world, change is inevitable when it comes to marketing via various social media platforms. Diversify your marketing strategies across numerous platforms because safety comes in numbers. If changes on one platform don’t suit your business, move your marketing money to another.

– Engelo Rumora, List’n Sell Realty

7. Make Ad Campaigns Pop

 With social media platforms now “competing for screen time,” companies need to make their advertising campaigns funny or memorable. We always remember those funny Super Bowl commercials, share them and talk about them. Making an emotional connection through storytelling will make potential customers remember your brand and create more buzz.

– Nemoy RauUS Biometrix

8. Network and Be Personal

You need to connect with friends and family on a personal level. Then you can market your services, just like you would in real life. You would not consistently blast your friends and family with announcements of your services, so don’t do it on Facebook either. However, a well-placed announcement for something interesting or important can be effective.

– Peter BoydPaperStreet Web Design

9. Make Content Sharable, Then Pay

If you have the right approach, this shouldn’t be a problem. You’re already creating shareable content targeted to the right audience. But even if your content is popular, you’ll have to pay to promote posts to a wider audience. Find out which posts generate the most engagement and pay to promote them. For brands, Facebook isn’t the free ride to huge audiences that it used to be.

– Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

10. Provide Value

Facebook is a game changer for any business that can master it. By providing value to the users that share your posts, it will give them an incentive to do so more often. For example, if you have an e-commerce business, offer a coupon code to anyone who shares your post. If you’re providing a service, give the users access to an exclusive blog post for sharing.

– Chad KellerWUDN

 

The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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Affiliate Summit – Stories and Moments You Don’t Want to Miss

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Hi, I’m Zac Johnson

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