It’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.
Before launching my first project based on internet marketing, I had spent well over a year reading every single article I could grab my hands on.
Reading about niches, themes, backlinks…
I thought by then I knew it all and was absolutely ready to see the money rolling in! Oh Boy was I wrong.
There’s a reason why, when you’re taking a class, that after explaining the theory, you have to do practical work.
That’s when you find out whether you actually understood what you learned. It’s the same thing for internet marketing: you will never really understand it until you do it. Period.
Even though the first time I read about internet marketing was back in 2009 (yes, over 8 years ago!), all that reading got me nowhere. I still consider myself a newbie because I only seriously went into it on November 2016. So, I don’t have 8 years of experience, but barely 6 months.
No matter how much you read, you will only be ready when you jump into it, so stop postponing and get to it!
How I found my niche:
What a scary word: niche!
All internet marketers make it look as if it’s the most important decision you will ever make in your entire online marketing life.
“Make it narrow but not too narrow, not too broad but broad enough”, “choose a niche with low competition and high search volume”, “choose a niche you know about but not necessarily an expert in” and so many other recommendation that will make you feel overwhelmed before even starting!
Well, what is a niche?
It is nothing more than the topic of your website. If your site will contain articles about raising babies for single mothers, then that is your niche.
If you are talking about fashion and outfits for toddlers, then your niche is fashion for toddlers. Yes, it’s that simple!
That is what a niche is.
Just because the word may seem foreign doesn’t mean it’s more complicated than it is. Don’t let it scare you!
So how did I find my niche you may ask?
I opened a word document (or pen and paper if you prefer that) and started listing my hobbies…
…As a lazy person I don’t have many but I enjoy doing a type of craft called cross-stitching.
And lo and behold I found my niche! Yes, it was that simple.
After years of reading articles left and right about finding a niche, it had been there right in front of me.
- Something I enjoy doing
- Something I know enough to write about
- Something that has a good search volume
“But what if it’s the wrong one?” A domain name costs about 10$ a year, that’s the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee or a Netflix subscription.
You’re not going to end up broke because you chose a niche and its corresponding domain and found out you didn’t like it.
“But I don’t know enough about this niche!” Its Fine! But you already know more than the people who are going to read your site and who want to learn!
“But there’s a lot of competition” In our world and age, the internet has “everything”. You will not find a topic that hasn’t already been covered. What will make your site unique will be you: your perspective, your ideas, your tips and tricks, your personal experience.
So stop hesitating and rack your brains, look around the room you are in, your apartment, your hobbies, your interests, there are millions of ideas up for grabs. Now, how come you haven’t found your niche yet?
Choosing my domain name
You may have read somewhere that your domain name needs to include your main keywords, so you end up struggling and searching to find that bestpuppytrainersinorlando.com isn’t available.
Your domain name is a ranking criterion, but it is just one of more than 200 that Google takes into consideration.
If you are considering turning your website into a business, then find a domain name that is short, memorable and brandable.
Think broader than just the set of keywords you will be using on your site. Look at all the big websites you are using, how many contain half a dozen keywords followed by a .com?
I used the domain name generator namemesh.com to help me get inspiration and find my domain name.
I typed in my keywords, looked at the generated results and I had found an available domain name that I liked and bought along with a hosting package, all within 24 hours!
“But what if I don’t like my domain name anymore” All business incur losses at some point and websites can be easily redirected to your new domain.
It’s better of course to make sure you really like the one you choose, but a mistake will not be a death sentence to your business.
“But I can’t find a domain name that has ANY of my keywords” If your domain name is snappy and short, people will remember it. Remember, it’s not the only ranking factor there is!
Finding a theme
In full disclosure, I have a bachelor degree in Computer Science so I am well versed in CSS and theme editing so I wasn’t really worried about finding a theme and adapting it the way I wanted.
A lot of the questions I come across are “Which theme is better for an amazon affiliate site?” or “Which theme is better for Google Adsense?” In my humble opinion, anyone who offers to sell you a theme because it is for such and such is ripping you off.
A theme is nothing more than the look and feel of your website.
It’ll set the font, the colors of your site, the border of your images, the position of the arrows on your slider, etc…From the general to the specific.
Does it contain some secret code that will automatically detect whether this link is an Amazon affiliate link and help it rank differently than if you used another theme? No!
There is an infinite number of themes you can find on the Internet, paid, free, easily customizable, easy on the eye, hideous looking… With a bit of research and editing, you can make your website look the way you want.
“But the theme I want is paid” Any business needs an investment. If you’re really convinced this theme is for you and you can afford it then go ahead and get it!
“But how can I make an irreversible decision on how my website will look?” If you’re using WordPress, changing themes is as easy as hitting the publish button on a new post…
Rebranding is something all major companies do at some point in their lifespan so don’t be afraid to make the jump!
Everyone hits a blank when they first start to create content. You will at some point read about a number of words to add, a percentage of keywords, adding H1 and H2 tags, choosing the right headline, writing those pillar posts everyone seems to talk about.
Just take a deep breath and think of the people who will be reading your content. What is it they want to learn? Why would they land on your site? What are they looking for? By answering these questions, you will end up with a huge list of things to cover!
A great tool I love to use when I’m stuck on finding topics is answerthepublic.com. After you type in your keyword, it will provide you a large list of ideas and search queries around your niche that you can export and turn into a list of articles to write.
“But I don’t know what to add in my pillar post!” A pillar post is nothing more than a post where the content is evergreen, a post that your users will read in 2007, 2017 or 2027 and still find the information valid.
They’re usually long because they cover the main information that almost all users are looking for.
For example, if your website is about internet marketing, your pillar post will be about: finding a niche, choosing a domain name and hosting plan, setting up wordpress, etc…
Even if the specifics and technicalities might slightly change, all of this information will almost always be valid.
“But Google loves longer articles!” I’m not sure who reinforced that stereotype.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes: would you enjoy reading a straight to the point 600 word article or a 2000 word articles full of ramblings and filler content?
I personally believe that when “longer articles” ranks, it’s because they are more in-depth and cover the topic from A to Z and are not just due to a 1000 word milestone that the author hit.
“What keyword percentage does my article need for Google?” Google sets its ranking factors based on what readers wants, which is why most of the updates have hit websites that don’t have an added value.
Let your content flow! If while writing an article you are properly covering the topic at hand, then your keywords will flow naturally within your text.
Monetizing your website
This is after all why we’re all doing what we’re doing.
The main goal: making money.
Being in several Internet marketing groups, I have found this topic to have the most misconceptions there are.
Like almost everyone, when I first went live a few months back, my main intent was to write articles, add a few affiliate links and just wait for people to come and buy. Due to my country’s location I did face some obstacles, but none stood in my way. There is always a workaround!
One of the common “newbie” questions I came across was “what type of site makes more money:
an Adsense site, an amazon affiliate site, a niche site, an authority?”
Let me start by saying your site can be none, or all of these at once, there are no limitations to what you do with it.
Your site can be an authority site within your Niche, have a few Adsense ads, Amazon and/or other affiliate links within your articles and promote your own product line!
Here are some of the main misconceptions I came across:
“Amazon is the only way to go” After Amazon recently changed their commission system, a lot of people were furious as they found their earnings go down.
Amazon is a good way to go as people trust it and are more willing to click on a link leading to it.
However, putting all your eggs into one basket is one of the worst ideas one can do.
What if someday Amazon decided to remove the affiliate system altogether or maybe just decrease their commission again?
Always diversify your affiliate links.
There are plenty of programs you can find and work with that have a better commission than Amazon or more targeted products that your audience actually needs.
Since Amazon wasn’t available in my country I had to dig in to find what my other options are.
Not only did I find affiliate programs through platforms like Affiliate Window or Commission Junction, but some sites even offered direct partnerships without a middle man!
Explore all of your options and don’t just limit yourself to Amazon.
“Google Adsense is enough to make a lot of money” That may have been true several years back and unless you have thousands of daily visitors or are a Youtube sensation, you may still be stuck having barely made a few dollars a year.
Again, diversify your income sources. Create your own unique products or set up deals and partnerships that go beyond an 8% commission!
“I just need to publish the articles and people will find it and make me rich” Promoting your article, finding backlinks, sharing on social media, finding facebook groups, using paid ads etc…
If your website is new it may take a while for it to rank.
There’s plenty of things you can do after publishing your article that will help you get the message out there.
Some methods are free, some are paid.
If you’re willing to invest, set aside a monthly budget dedicated for the promotion of your site, whether through google adwords or facebook/Instagram ads.
Find out a little about all the methods to get your article to the right audience and then learn in-depth about one or two that would be the best match for your website’s topic.
For example, if you’re in the arts and crafts like me, Pinterest is where your audience is.
If you’re targeting first time mothers, Facebook groups and forums are the place to go. Know where your audience is and market accordingly.
If you’re looking for backlinks, you can find and contact other website owners within your niche.
While you may come across a few rejections, you will find plenty of helpful people who would me more than glad for example to let you interview them and link to the resulting article!
Don’t be scared of reaching it and contacting other people!
In conclusion, I have to say I probably learned a lot more about what not to do and where to not waste my time and energy than what to do.
Each website is unique with its own specific audience, products, and market place.
So don’t spend your time trying to learn everything about anything but focus your energy on what truly matters in your case.
I’ve had 0 income so far (0.79$ if you consider my Adsense income), but more importantly, I know why!
With all the misinformation you may come across and all the information overload, you may postpone launching your site until you know everything so you won’t make mistakes.
I will tell you this:
I only started learning when I dived in. The next step now is to refocus my energy on what truly matters and reapply everything I learned to my current project.