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Niche Laboratory's Best Blogging Tips For 2019

Brett from Niche Laboratory here. I've been blogging since 1999 when I bought my brettb.com domain name. I've also started a huge number of mini niche sites, as well as services like Niche Laboratory and Find A Forum.

In this article I've braindumped as many blogging tips as I can think of. I wish I had this list when I was starting out. I've divided the list into:

I hope you like the list. If you want to engage with me then check out my NicheLaboratory.TV Channel or get in touch on Facebook - links in the top right corner of this page.

Tips For Newbie Bloggers

Keep Going, Even When You're Making Zero Progress

If you start blogging with the idea of making money, then you'll need GIGANTIC commitment. Don't be like my friend who announced to the world that she was going to become a blogger. Well after 2 blog posts that was it - she never wrote another post again!

To make money from a blog you're going to need way more effort that this. Then even as your blog gets successfull you'll need even more sticking power.

Here's an example. This month I've made no sales on Niche Laboratory. None at all! Yet this month I've released a new software application, two free services and written this really long blog post. It's hard to keep going when there's so little in return. If you want to have any long lasting success with your own blog then you'll have to exhibit this level of commitment. Just focus on the longer term picture. Also set things up so you see lots of little victories. For example, as well as selling my own software I'm also an affiliate for other peoples' products. So while I may not have sold any of my own products this month, I did at least make two really good affiliate conversions through Niche Laboratory and another site I own.

Don't Publish Junk

Was it Google's Penguin or Panda updates that punished sites that had too much low quality content on them? I can't remember now. Whatever, I really learnt my lesson.

I was never hit as badly as some other bloggers were by these updates. But I still took a huge hit on my income. In 2011 I was earning $1000 a month on AdSense, but now I'm lucky to hit $50 a month.

One thing I learnt back in 2014 was that if you take all the junk off your site you can actually get your rankings back. So periodically I take my niche sites for a haircut. Basically I send any Post to the trash if it hasn't had any traffic from Google in the last 6 months. It's quite a good indicator of article quality.

Actually I had one success story in that one of my niche sites died in 2013, but then the traffic came back after a big pruning of low quality content. It still gets plenty of visitors today.

What I've noticed from my writing and publishing efforts over the last year is that low quality content can really hurt your site. So now I tend to post less, and I go for longer post lengths. I've noticed so many other bloggers doing the same. In the past blogging figureheads used to recommend posting at least 500 words, then it was 1000 words. Now you've gotta post at least 2000 words to get ranked well. This is actually based on scientifically researched fact. Now marketing guru Neil Patel recommends you write long form articles of over 3000 words .

Don't Be In A Hurry To Monetize Your Blog

I saw that in Ankit Singla's blogging tips he recommends you put ads on your site straight away.

He argues that monetizing your blog from the beginning is often the most effective way to best define your target audience.

I disagree with this. I used to put AdSense blocks on my new sites the same day I set up the WordPress app! Now I wait a while before monetising. In fact Niche Laboratory was ad-free for the first year or two I ran the site for. Last year I also started a forum and it's been ad-free for a year. I know that if the forum is successful then it will be really easy to make money from it. It's in a niche that people love to buy stuff.

Another really nice example is the Chinese dating app TanTan. This is a very successful clone of Tinder. If you install TanTan you can now buy a VIP subscription. This is quite a new option. For the first 3 years or so of the app it was completely free. Now their membership option is proving really successful. Plus by focussing 100% on growing their userbase they have now become pretty much the #1 dating app in China.

Choose A Niche You're Passionate About

Blogging is hard work and it's not so easy to publish any old rubbish and make $1000 a month like I and many other people were doing back in 2010!

So if you're considering blogging in 2019 then make sure you choose a niche you're passionate about!

Another good topic is something you're just getting into. I had my biggest ever hit with this type of niche. Say you bought a new vintage car at auction, and you want to do it up and sell it on a few years later. You're bound to have all kinds of newbie questions (where can I buy a new exhaust pipe, where can I buy fuel that vintage cars will tolerate). Plus you could vlog your progress and make some incredible original content.

It doesn't even matter if it's a niche you don't see yourself having a long term interest in. Once your site is established it could pretty much run on autopilot. Or you could always sell your site and find a new topic to blog about.

Consider Using Text Ads Not Banner Ads

I've been running niche sites for years. My main niche has a CTR of 10-20% so I have a tonne of data about where to place your site's adverts. Seriously, people go click crazy in this niche!

One big secret I'll share is that you don't actually need to plaster your entire site with ads.

Some of my best sources of income are the affiliate links I put into the body text of my articles. These can link out to affiliate sites or your own products. These links convert like crazy because people who are interested enough to click on links in articles are generally much more committed buyers than are people who mindlessly click on pretty banner ads.

Another great reason to use text links rather than banners is that your site looks less like a spammy site. Plus you don't need to worry about all those people using Adblocking software!

Write In Depth Articles Of At Least 2000 Words

Longer is better these days so you should definitely focus on writing much longer blog posts.

In the past blogging figureheads used to recommend posting at least 500 words, then it was 1000 words. Now you've gotta post at least 2000 words to get ranked well. This is actually based on scientifically researched fact. Indeed, marketing guru Neil Patel now recommends you write long form articles of over 3000 words . His own site is proof that he believes in this.

Don't Build A Blog - Build a Forum Instead

I've experimented with forums in the past, with mixed results. The biggest problem I had was getting people to register and post.

Another problem I had was that it took a fair bit of technical expertise to maintain a forum. It's certainly not as straightforward as managing WordPress blogs.

Thankfully the latter problem has been addressed pretty well as far as the free phpBB forum software goes. It's much easier to maintain a phpBB forum these days. It now has a plugins type system where you can easily install and uninstall Mods. It's also generally easier to upgrade the software to a new version.

Of course attracting members is as hard as it always was. Plus these days there is immense competition from social sites like Facebook and Reddit. But if you are passionate about a particular niche and it's one in which you know people will want to join an indy forum then definitely consider starting a forum rather than a blog.

One tip I have - older people are generally more likely to register and post on an indy forum. They have more time to post too!

Don't Get Too Worried About SEO

The egg heads who run Google, Bing and the other search engines are pretty smart these days. They're getting good at detecting people trying to game the system. Plus they're using AI and machine learning to categorise and rank sites. So SEO is not quite as relevant as it once was.

For example, you don't really need to worry about varying your language in order to rank for LSI type related phrases. The search engines are getting good at recognising related topics. I can see this on the Niche Laboratory website. I called this interactive tool I built the Blog Title Generator. However, I can see that Google are actually sending me more visitors who search for clickbait title generator and clickbait headlines generator. It also ranks for a whole load of related long tail phrases. I'd never have been able to think of all the various combinations and permutations.

Choose An Easy Niche

I've been running Niche Laboratory since 2014 and I've accumulated stats for over 20,000 of your submitted jobs.

While I'm careful not to reveal your niches to each other, I do publish some information about what all you guys are researching.

One this is certain - way too many of you are researching popular and saturated niches like dogs, weight loss and SEO.

So please use all the various tools on this site to find some less competitive niches. Use the More SEO Tools drop-down menu at the top of this page to find the complete range of SEO Tools here. There's also some more data hidden in the other menu.

You might also find that less popular niches are also easier to rank for and to get traffic. I'll reveal one of my best ever niches: code documentation tools.

This search term has a 390 monthly search volume on Google. Is that worth bothering with? I actually made $100,000 from this niche. Back in 2004 I only had two other competitors. Today it's more competitive but it's a B2B niche where you can pretty much charge whatever the hell you like.

Here's another keyword: rights of light insurance. It has 140 a month search volume on Google. Would you bother with this keyword? Well I used to work for a City of London insurance company that made millions of pounds a year from keywords like this one. Hell, most of their key search terms had such low search volume I couldn't find anything about them in the different keyword tools I tested.

Choose A Memorable Brandable Domain

This has been a good tip for a few years now. If you're going to start a blog then consider starting a brand. I've been adopting this approach and it's been working really well.

Basically you want people to remember your site and type its name and/or URL into the Google search box. For example, 90 people a month search for Niche Laboratory in Google and around 50 search for Find A Forum. Of course you should rank #1 for these terms if they are your brands. Oh, another memorable one that I can think of is the ESL teacher Ben Teaches English Overseas. He's largely known through his YouTube Channel. His brand is quite well known these days and Ben Teaches English Overseas has a monthly search volume of 110 on Google.

Last year I started a forum and it's really encouraging that people are typing that site's name into Google. It means I chose a memorable domain name + site name. Going forward if I buy any more domains then I'll definitely be looking for something with a good brand potential.

Be Yourself

The previous point about choosing a brandable domain name leads nicely to the next point - be yourself.

I'll reuse the example site from the previous tip. Ben Teaches English Overseas is a perfect example of somebody who has mastered the art of being himself.

In the SEO/blogging niche, another site I admire is MasterBlogging. Ankit Singla has used a really nice professionally taken photo of himself on his blog and his site is full of positive energy. Of course Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income is a true master at self-branding. Spencer of Niche Pursuits is another well known blogger in the SEO/make money online niche who is an expert at self-branding.

So don't hide behind anonymous faceless blogs. Be yourself, and inject YOUR personality into your blog.

I definitely want to do this a bit more on Niche Laboratory. I do of course have Saki the keyword tools girl whose image I use as the site's brand. I actually commissioned her on Fiverr and she did indeed cost just $5 to get created for me.

Be Positive

As well as building and maintaining this site I'm also an English and IT teacher.

The other day I was looking for some ideas for how to do a paraphrasing lesson. Of course I turned to Google to see what I could find on the subject.

I don't always automatically click on the 1st search result. I tend to scan the search results and if the question is answered by the excerpt then so much the better. But for a query such as "ESL paraphrasing lesson plan" it's unlikely that you could get the answer to this query straight away.

So I clicked through to what I thought was the most relevant result.

Anyway, I was really disappointed that the 3rd search result showed me a message that "AdBlockers aren't welcome, please disable your adblock software now".

Now if the content is *really* valuable then I will disable my Adblock.

But an ESL teaching blog using it?

Gimme a break!

There is so much English teaching stuff online that all I had to do was to click on the 4th search result to find what I was looking for.

And the result of this?

Google will eventually demote the ad blocking checker site. The 4th site will rise up in the rankings and replace them.

Another rant: I really hate sites that don't allow you to copy and paste content. Hell, I never share those sites or link to them. Guys, don't ever do stuff like this! Blog content is worthless these days, it's not worth protecting. If somebody is determined to steal your content, they will achieve it. All these stupid plugins do is to slow your site down and annoy your regular users.

I found some more negativity the other day. I tried a bit of an outreach campaign to promote my new Blog Spy app.

It was hard going. When I tried to use the contact form on Blogging Fist I realised their email form won't allow content to be copied and pasted from anywhere else. Does this cut down on copypasta spam? Probably. Does it penalise anyone who doesn't trust the reliablility of their browser (or YOUR hosting plan) and who would rather write their emails in notepad? Of course!

Next I tried contacting Aziz at Azibyaqoob.com through his online contact form. This time the form would let me paste text from notepad. However, it wouldn't send the outreach email. A broken site? Perhaps. Well I am experienced enough to suspect an anti-spam filter. Sure enough, when I removed the links from the email it sent the message. Good but how useful is a contact form when legitimate people can't send you links? I only hope Aziz is smart enough to noticed my email address and thereby infer what my domain name is.

Finally I tried to reach out at Ankit at Master Blogging. Anyway, I was impressed with Ankit's positive message on his contact page. There is no interactive form to post comments via, just a simple email address link. Sometimes simple is better. Maybe this is why MasterBlogging.com outranks the previous two sites I've mentioned here.

If you want another example of a blogger who's always positive then check out Neil Patel. Of course you could always break this rule and go the opposite way like Roosh has for most of his online career. But if you're starting out, then always have a smile on your face. If you have problems with your hosting, or spammers or anything else then keep it to yourself.

Use HTTPS/SSL

If you're starting a new blog then make sure you have an SSL certificate. The days of being able to run a site that doesn't have an SSL certificate are going away rapidly. The annoying thing is that I'm pretty sure Google is just promoting SSL everywhere in order to deflect attention from the amount of stealing of personal data and other people's content that it does. But we're stuck with SSL now.

It's pretty obvious that if you look at the search results there would be zero loss to humanity if all the non-SSL sites were removed from the index. I have warned you - the lack of an SSL certificate is a huge red flag so make sure your own site is flying the SSL flag!

The good news is that SSL need not be expensive. For instance, Hostgator now give all their customers free SSL certificates for all of their domain names, even if the domains weren't registered with them (see their post about it here).

I'm definitely annoyed that GoDaddy don't routinely offer a free SSL certificate option for their paying customers now. If they did then this site would also be using it.

Link To Other Sites

I remember back in 2008 loads of people were saying not to link to other sites. In fact when I started writing articles on HubPages you could only link out to two external sites per article.

Ultimately rules like this punished the site and they lost most of their traffic.

For SEO and user experience purposes it's always a good idea to link to as many quality sites as you can. For instance, you'll notice that this article links to all kinds of sites. The thing in common is that I've linked to sites that are useful to you, the reader.

Don't worry about losing the occasional visitor to another site. If your site was good, they WILL come back at some point.

And don't worry about losing people who don't click on adverts. What you lose in visitors leaving by clicking on links, you'll make back with slightly improved search result rankings.

Focus On Traffic

One more tip if you're just starting out on your blogging adventure. For the first year or two don't worry about making money. Primarily focus on traffic.

Once you have a steady source of traffic, money will follow. It rarely works the other way round.

Tips For Intermediate Level Bloggers

Don't Keep Buying Domains

Oh I am really guilty from this. Between 2010 and 2017 I must have bought at least 50 domain names. I was obsessed with them. However I've now scaled back and I've vowed not to give the GoDaddy domain registrar any more of my hard earned cash.

What am I doing instead? I'm making much more of my existing sites. For example, right now I'm stripping the poor quality content off one of my sites and I'm writing some fresh new content for it. The good news is that this site is in a tried and trusted niche so I know for 100% that if I can get more visitors to the site again then it will make money.

Another thing I'm doing is consolidating my domains. I'm now letting domain names expire if the site gets a small amount of traffic and isn't really giving me much in return, either in traffic terms or branding opportunities. For example, I expired NicheIdeaOfTheDay.com after having a site there for five years. However, I retained the database behind it and used it to provide the data for Niche Laboratory's new interactive Low Competition Niche Tool.

Don't Keep Building Blogs

People who want to make money online are obsessed with Blogging. If you look at sites like Warrior Forum you'd think that WordPress blogs are the only type of website you can build.

Of course there are other types of website!

Forums can still be good, especially if you already have a following in a particular micro-niche.

But there is one new type of site you should seriously consider building.

Actually it's not really a new business idea - it's been around for a few years now. This business type is KILLING IT online!!!

How do I know? Because I once had 50,000+ visitors a month to my personal website, but a new business model stole 90% of my traffic!

What was it?

The Answers type website!

I had a few dozen programming how-to articles on my site. For example, how to find the length of a text string in SQL. I got a load of traffic to them and used this traffic to promote my own software products.

But from 2010 onwards, the traffic started to vanish.

Where did it go?

To stackoverflow.com!

Today this site absolutely dominates the SERPs for programming type questions. But unbelieveably it's not an old site. I think it started gaining serious traffic in 2009. That's over 10 years after Google started, and a decade after I bought my own domain name.

Since then a lot of answer type sites have sprung up in various niches. Indeed stackoverflow have sites for all kinds of niches - they've successfully moved out of the IT niche.

There are also gigantic sites that are just generic Q & A type sites - Quora is one that springs to mind.

So if you're starting to think about making a niche blog, then why not make an Answers site instead?

Niche Laboratory can help you out here - it finds a lot of questions about your niche that people need answers to. Download Niche Laboratory Pro to get more keyword suggestions.

If you want to make a site then you don't need any programming ability. Here's a list of Answers Wordpress Templates. QAEngine is the one I like best in the list. Which one is your favorite?

The only thing I don't like about these is that they force people to register to ask questions. This will put off a lot of people. Users don't like complicated registration processes these days. At the very least you should allow them to log in with FB, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn (business niches).

As to my own niches, I did start a Q/A type site and was quite happy with the results of the experiment. It's definitely worth trying out a Q/A site, especially if your niche doesn't have a lot of content on Quora.

If you want to start your own Questions and Answers type site then make sure you test out Keyword Researcher Pro as it gives you hundreds of long tail keyword suggestions that are just perfect for using as topic ideas on your new site.

Keep Working On That Keyword Research

Google have been signalling for many years that they're moving away from keywords. For example, in Google Analytics reports it's much harder to see the keywords people are searching for when they click through to your site. Usually you'll see the rather cryptic (not provided) message for the vast majority of your searches.

Furthermore, Google have also been moving away from keywords in their Adwords advertising platform, as this post describes.

Does this mean that keyword research is less important these days?

Definitely not!

I get the most traffic to articles (and videos too!) when I create them with a specific keyword in mind. If you can rank for a high volume keyword then your traffic will soar. Believe it or not I once appeared in the top 10 Google Image Search results for 'peacock'.

So keyword research is still important. There are plenty of tools - paid and free - that you can use to find new keywords to write about. My top tip is something I saw talked about in an Income School video. Basically they were talking about making sure you always have a list of keywords you need to write blog posts for. This isn't actually something I learnt from them - it's something I've been actively doing since 2010. I always have a long list of keywords that I find using various tools. When I get some spare time I sit down and write an article or two, then cross those keywords off my list. Incidentally, I mostly use a paper based system although I did use Trello for a time.

There are so many keyword tools these days but the one I always like to recommend is Keyword Researcher Pro. I've found so many great keywords using that tool. Plus it's cheap as well, and it's a one off purchase not a monthly subscription tool.

Avoid Subdomains Where Possible

OK this is a tip that I've not always followed myself. Anyway, if you have a site and you get the idea to add a forum or a blog or some other type of functionality to your existing site, then where should you put it?

I started Niche Laboratory in 2014, and it wasn't until a couple of years later that I decided to add on a blog. I decided to put the blog on a subdomain - blog.nichelaboratory.com instead of www.nichelaboratory.com/blog.

I now realise that I should have used www.nichelaboratory.com/blog because I'd probably get a lot more visitors to the blog if I did. I'd be able to more fully integrate the blog with the rest of my site. I'd also be able to take advantage of www.nichelaboratory.com's much higher PageRank.

Unfortunately I had to put my blog on a subdomain because it's not actually hosted with the same hosting company as the main site. WordPress doesn't work well on my Niche Laboratory GoDaddy hosting plan, so I had to stick it on a Hostgator account instead. For technical reasons you might find yourself in the same position. However, if you do have the choice of where to host your application then I'd highly recommend to put it on the same domain as your main site, especially if it's going to have a lot of content that can be indexed by search engines.

If I was building Niche Laboratory again then I might do what Neil Patel has done with his site. His Ubersuggest keyword tool is now on a subdomain - app.neilpatel.com while his blog is on the main domain. Well he's the guru so you should definitely follow his lead on this.

Build Out Any Tag or Category Pages That Are Ranking

This is another reasonably quick tip you can put into practice really easily.

Basically if you have a WordPress blog then you need to check your website statistics in Google Search Console, Analytics or anything else you use to keep track of your website visitors. What you need to look for are Landing Pages that are Tag pages or Category Pages.

Why are these important? Basically if your Tag or Category Pages are ranking then it means your site doens't have enough individual Posts or Pages about these topics. It's also a clue that Google is underserved in content when it comes to whatever search terms your Tag/Category pages are ranking for.

These Tag and Category pages are easy to search for. Just look for them in your site's Landing Pages report in Google Analytics. Or find them in the Search Console. This one is a good place to look because you should also find some typical keywords your Tag or Category pages are ranking for.

Work Tirelessly On Perfecting Your Top Navigation

Do you know how many times a year I change the Niche Laboratory website's top menu? I'm pretty sure I change it more often than I change my underwear!!!

The top menu is the single most important part of your site.

Seriously, the top menu on your site is super, super important. Keep tweaking it, keep perfecting it and keep an eye on your site's Bounce Rate.

Move Your Side Navigation Bar

Here's another tip that will be particularly important if you have a WordPress blog.

Many Themes seem to put the navigation bar on the right side of the screen.

Why?

From testing CTR rates on adverts in a high CTR niche I established that I got a lot more clicks on the adverts when I moved my navigation side bar from the right side of the screen to the left side.

I've just done the same on Niche Laboratory. Notice that the side navigation is now on the left side of the screen? It's way more noticeable there!

I'm not the only person who has the data to prove that this is worthwhile. Here's an ecommerce case study where they managed to improve website revenue by around 30%, simply by moving the navigation bar from the right to the left!

Invest In Your Website

I must admit I'm really terrible at this! I'm a cash hoarder and I never want to spend money on anything except for food and my one special hobby that's dear to me.

It's a good trait to have. I've hoarded so much cash over the years that I was semi-retired by the age of 45 and ready to join the leagues of financially independent bloggers such as the guys running Early Retirement Extreme and Mr Money Mustache.

But the downside is that I've been reluctant to invest in my websites over the years. If I can find a free Wordpress Theme then I'll use that and not a $49 paid Theme.

It's a shame really because there have been times when I really should have invested in my sites. I'm sure I would have seen a really good return on my investment.

I'd always recommend you invest in your site. Sometimes it's the small things that can make the best return. For example when I started Niche Laboratory I spent $5 on Fiverr to get Saki the sexy scientist avatar created. I've used her as the brand logo for Niche Laboratory ever since. She's definitely memorable. I once lost out on a job interview because although the company loved my resume, when they took at look at the Niche Laboratory website they thought Saki wasn't politically correct enough and maybe I would turn out to be a pervert who would tell risque jokes or grope the secretaries or something. That was corporate paranoia at its finest!

Find Old Directory Sites To Promote Your Blog On

Are old directory sites old hat?

Not at all! I built FindAForum back in 2013 and now it's my highest traffic site. It kind of sucks because it doesn't make any money but that's my problem, not yours.

Anyway, bear in mind that a dated looking indy site like FindAForum might actually have quite a bit of traffic.

I actually found an even crappier looking site in another niche I was having a go at. I got a link from the site and it actually sends me 5-6 visitors every single day. That's not a huge amount but these visitors are already interested in my niche, so they're really valuable visitors! As a result the I see super low Bounce Rates from referral traffic from this site. Oh, and it was totally free to get the link too!

Start Building A Brand

This has been a good tip for a few years now. If you're going to start a blog then consider starting a brand too. I've been adopting this approach and it's been working really well.

So what's a brand as far as a blog is concerned? Basically you want people to remember your site and type its name and/or URL into the Google search box. For example, 90 people a month search for Niche Laboratory in Google and around 50 search for my other brand Find A Forum. Of course you should rank #1 for these terms if they are your brands. Oh, another memorable one that I can think of is the ESL teacher Ben Teaches English Overseas. He's largely known through his YouTube Channel. His brand is quite well known these days and Ben Teaches English Overseas has a monthly search volume of 110 on Google.

Last year I started a forum and it's really encouraging that people are typing that site's name into Google. It means I chose a memorable domain name + site name. Going forward if I buy any more domains then I'll definitely be looking for something with a good brand potential.

Brands don't always need to be related to your product or service. For example, it's not that obvious what the name Flippa might be associated with. But it's a catchy, easier to remember brand name that gets 74,000 searches a month on Google.

Add Interactive Tools

Once your site is getting some traffic then you want to make some really nice tools that people can use. These are really great for attracting natural backlinks. They aren't too difficult to make, either.

If you want to make an interactive tool on WordPress then there are all sorts of plugins you can use. Or you could make something yourself using PHP and maybe even a database. I've put a few interactive forms on a few of my Wordpress blogs. All I do is make a custom Page template using HTML and PHP. Then I make a new page in Wordpress and assign the page's Template to my uploaded file. It works great and only takes a little bit of beginner's knowledge of PHP to do so.

What kind of things am I talking about? A really great example is the Niche Laboratory website - there are loads of free interactive tools on here. One tool I built in 2018 has really taken off. It's the Blog Title Generator Tool. This was so easy to make, although it does help I've been a software developer for ages. Actually this tool was just a chunk of code from the Niche Laboratory app. I just thought it would be nice to make it into a standalone free web service. I spent half a day creating it, and now it gets 16% of my total page views (the Niche Laboratory home page gets 50% and the 3rd ranked page gets just 3%!).

Tools and calculators can often attract loads of natural backlinks. This is especially so if you make a tool that nobody else has thought of, or you make a tool in a quite specialised niche. For example, I once found one site that had a niche student grades calculator. They inputted their grades and found out what exam results they would need to get their GPA up to standard. I don't know much about this niche but I do know that I had two of my IT students retake my course so they could get their averages up. Maybe they'd used this tool then realised they needed to do something about their grades!

One other example of a really popular tool I've made is FindAForum. This is a directory of 1400+ forums I collated back in 2013. It took maybe 1-2 months to add all the data to the site. It's now my highest traffic site and has attracted dozens of organic backlinks from sites like Niche Hacks and Quora.

Get Into Video

In early 2018 I had two months break from my teaching job. One thing I did in that time was to start the NicheLaboratory.TV Channel on YouTube.

I got really excited, made 18 videos then got bored and did something else instead.

One year later, what progress had I made?

  • After about 4 months my Channel's traffic rose significantly. It's kind of like that point in a niche site's lifetime when it starts getting visitors every single day.
  • A couple of my videos are doing very well indeed. I now realise that keyword research is very important on YouTube too.
  • I'm getting some good referral traffic from videos appearing in search results. If I don't have an article targeting a particular keyword, then maybe my video will rank for it instead!
  • I gained about 30 subscribers in a year. This is without any promotion whatsoever. Also my niche isn't particularly big on YouTube. I don't know about you but I hardly ever look for keyword tool or SEO tips on YouTube - I'm much more likely to look for blogs to read.
  • My new videos are getting quite a few views as soon as I post them. Maybe Google is more likely to rank them as soon as I post them, or I'm getting some views from my subscribers.
  • I've had some reasonably good feedback. I'm quite pleased because like so many other people I always hated the sound of my own voice and my video creation software is very basic. I've not really moved beyond screen capture walkthroughs at this stage.

So is 2019 the year YOU get into video?

Start That Mailing List

OK so I'm not going to post much about this as it's something I've not done enough of. But I've noticed that the more successful blogs out there tend to have mailing lists. It doesn't really matter what the niche is, the better blogs have made more of mailing lists.

Focus On User Experience

Back in 2010 I noticed that Google were sometimes tracking if you clicked on a particular search result. Well that experiment must have generated such good data that they now track every single click in the SERP's.

What does that mean for us bloggers? Basically you need to make sure your site gives the user a really good experience. In your Analytics data try to reduce your Bounce Rate and increase the User Time Spent on Site.

Above all, make sure you deliver on what the user is searching for (see the next tip).

Focus On Search Intent

One thing I try to do I'm conducting keyword research is to think about user intent. This isn't too hard to do. When somebody is searching for a particular term, you need to get inside their heads and work out *exactly* what type of site they expect to see in the search results.

For example, if they look for best toaster under $100 then they're expecting to see a list of toasters that cost less than $100. If your site delivers on their user intent then you'll have satisfied visitors and you should rise up the rankings.

So for every keyword you target, just get inside the heads of the people who are searching for the thing. What will they expect to see? A blog? A comparison article? Or would they expect to see a forum or an ecommerce store?

If you're trying to rank for ecommerce terms then don't be surprised if your site is pushed out of the rankings in favour of ecommerce stores. After all, that is what the users are trying to find in the first place.

Do Some A/B Testing

If your site is well established then don't sit back - test everything!

One thing I've done a whole lot of testing of on this website is the advertising. I've tested AdSense here. I've tested my own products. I've tested all kinds of affiliate products. Now I've settled on promoting my own products plus selected other products, especially Keyword Researcher Pro. I know my visitors are great fans of Keyword Researcher Pro, so it's the main affiliate offer I promote.

So remember to test your advertising. Don't forget to test out your design either. Small wording changes can make a huge difference - especially on the top menu links.

Here's a really interesting ecommerce case study where they managed to improve a website's revenue by around 30%, simply by moving the navigation bar from the right to the left hand side of the screen!

Find Hidden Affiliate Programmes

I think this is one of my favourite tips here. It's actually the one that's personally made me the most money!

Back in 2011 I had two really successful niche sites. They were making stacks of money from Google Adsense.

Then one morning I checked my email. Both sites had been flagged as breaching the terms of the AdSense programme and Google had informed me I had 48 hours to remove the AdSense code from the sites.

Oh. My. God!

So what did I do?

Of course I complied with the their request. I've had several disasters like this over the years. My first response is to fire fight and respond to the emergency. Once the panic is dealt with then there's time to regroup and think about what to do next.

My priority was to make sure I didn't get banned from AdSense. Fortunately I took the adverts off the sites in question and I was able to save my account (which was still making a lot of money on some other sites).

What I did next was to look at the offending content on the sites Google objected to and find ways to monetise this content.

I'd written a few posts about a particular membership site in the niche. I didn't think they had an affiliate programme. So sent them a quick email to enquire about whether they had an affiliate programme. Well it turned out they did!

This affiliate programme has turned out to be one of my best online income sources. To date I reckon I've invoiced them to the tune of 7200 Euros since I first put their affiliate links on my sites. That's 7200 Euros made from one single email enquiry!

It's not difficult to do this yourself. Find vendors selling some products that are a good match for your niche website visitors. Then approach them to see if they have an affiliate or a referral programme.

Even if they don't have either of these, you might still be able to get some money out of them. Maybe you could cut them an advertising deal, or they could pay you for some links from their site. I know Google isn't keen on the latter method but it's highly successful for generating revenue for your site. My friend sells paid links and it's a great source of income for his niche website and forum.

Don't Create, Curate

How many blog posts do you write per week? How much new video, photos or other content are you constantly creating?

New and original content is great to post but it's really time consuming to create!

So it's well worth thinking about curating content rather than creating your own content all the time. If you're using WordPress then it's so easy to post in videos from YouTube. Don't post your own videos on your blog - post other peoples' videos too! Once type of blog post I do quite often now is to find an interesting video then write a commentary about it.

Last year I also started a forum. The majority of the content on that site is curated content. I post a load of videos that I find on YouTube. My members love me posting embedded videos as it gives them something new to comment on. It's super easy to post these threads too! Finally the video creators get some good exposure. In fact one YouTuber actually joined my site in order to promote his channel in a related niche to my forum.

Incidentally, I have followed my own tip in this article. Some of the tips I've included in this long article are copied and pasted from other sources. A couple of the tips were sent out to my email subscribers. A couple also appeared on the Niche Laboratory forum.

Tips For Seasoned Bloggers

Revisit Your Blog's Theme

Once your site is well established then don't leave it like it is. New web technology comes along all the time, and things never stay still.

One thing you need to revisit every 3 years or so is the whole issue of whether your blog's Theme is still up to standard.

I've been doing quite a lot of Theme replacement lately. If you use Wordpress then replacing the Theme on your site isn't too difficult. The main problems I've found are:

  1. When you activate a new Theme some of the menus and widgets go in the wrong places.
  2. If you've manually tweaked your Theme's HTML then you'll probably lose those changes. For example, I always change the footer, removing Wordpress/Theme name boilerplate text and adding links to my Privacy Policy, Sitemap and About page.
  3. If you've made any custom Pages then you might need to recreate them for the new Theme.

When choosing a new Theme I'd recommend you focus on the technology requirements of your visitors, readability and fast loading speed.

I started one of my best micro niche sites in 2012. I loved the Clickbump Theme as it loaded so quickly and had great CTR rates on adverts. However, I was shocked when I looked in my Google Analytics in 2017. Wow - 60% of my site's visitors were using mobile devices. Bigger shock - the Clickbump Theme was not even mobile friendly! It looked rubbish on a mobile phone. So I reluctantly replaced Clickbump with ColorMag. Actually I've now gone off ColorMag and now I'm using the clean and fast loading HitMag.

Start Outreaching To Others

I'm really terrible at this - I tend to build things then wait for natural backlinks to occur. Well it worked really well with FindAForum.net!

Maybe I'd achieved some good growth hacking by doing a bit of outreach. But something in my INFJ nature makes me really susceptible to negative feedback. It's my kryptonite!

I remember when I started FindAForum. I posted links to it on WarriorForum and some other site (maybe Digital Point?).

Anyway, both forums told me off for spamming and I thought forget it - I'm trying to help your visitors but I don't need the crap from you.

Outreach can be *really* effective though. Although it appeared organically, back in 2015 something like a third of Niche Laboratory's traffic came from one referral link that a mildly influential blogger had added to a roundup of keyword tools.

Build Your Own Products

I'd always recommend you try creating your own products. I don't mean eBooks - there's so much more you can sell!

My biggest financial success was when I wrote some software then sold it online. I ended up making around $100,000 from my product range. My most expensive product (a site license) was $249.95 and I sold plenty of those. That certainly beats a few cents from CPC Ad clicks.

Remember that you don't need do be a programmer to create digital products. Spencer Haws created Long Tail Pro but he's not a programmer. Pat from Smart Passive Income has experimented with software products too. He created CreateAClickableMap.com by getting an idea, finding a map then hiring a coder to build his idea out. Read the full background story here.

Diversify Into Related Niches

I've done this a lot - maybe too much in fact!

Anyway, once you're having success in one niche, then try to enter related niches too. It'll often be really easy for you to do so.

Just don't get distracted and end up with 50 domains like I did at one point!

What I would recommend is that if you build a new site in a related niche then sell off one site and focus on the other one. Keep whichever one you think you can keep up your interest in, and which will have the best longer term earning potential.

Find A Keyword, Then DON'T Blog About It

Does this sound a bit crazy? Well I've just tried an experiment for this idea so I hope I works...

Anyway, the search results are so competitive these days maybe you should move away from blogging about keywords and do something that will REALLY stand out.

Making videos is one idea, but that's not really what I had in mind here. I've got something much more ambitious...

Find a keyword, make a tool...

So I found this keyword: low competition niches. Apparently it has 320 search volume a month. It's not a huge number, but it's also not an obscure 10 volume a month keyword either. With LSI variations ranking well for this keyword could bring in hundreds of visits a month!

So where is my blog post entitled 101 Low Competition Niches You Should Enter In 2019? I'm sure this is how Niche Hacks would target this keyword.

Now I haven't actually made a blog post targeting this keyword. Instead I've made this Low Competition Niche Tool. It actually took about the same time to make this tool as it did to write a decent 3000 word blog post. But look how cool my tool is. I really enjoyed clicking on the Find Me Some Less Competitive Niches button to see what niches the thing would give me. It's really addictive!

It's currently too early to tell if this trick is going to work for the low competition niches keyword. However, as I've mentioned previously in this post my earlier tool built to target the blog title generator keyword now gets a tonne of traffic - in fact that page now gets 16% of the entire page views on the Niche Laboratory website!

Sell Your Site

So, you've built a great blog. It had plenty of visitors. Maybe it's also an Authority Site in some particular niche.

Now What?

I'll always recommend that you strongly consider selling your site. It's an especially good idea to do so if you're not really that interested in your site's niche. But even if you are interested in your niche, again it's well worth thinking about selling the site.

Why? Because sooner or later you WILL lose interest. Or maybe your site's popularity will peak and then it will be sad to watch the long, slow decline.

I've started two major businesses in my life. In 2002 I started a shareware software business. I made $100,000 from that one. However, I found that after 5 years I really started losing interest in it. I really should have sold it at that point. I could have banked the profits then invested them in stocks and property. Instead I hung onto the site which started making less and less money each month.

If you sell a business then there's always the worry that you'll miss the recurring revenue and you'll never find anything to replace it.

That's NOT true at all. By 2007 I'd lost interest in my business. But in 2009 I started a new business - first I sold eBooks, then I built some micro-niche sites. By 2011 my new business was making even more money than my old software business ever made!

If you want to sell your website then it's so easy - just list it on Flippa or Empire Flippers . On both sites you can reckon to sell sites for around 20 times their monthly income.

What to do with your profits? I invest pretty much all of my spare cash in high yielding investments. Thanks to compound interest I now make 3x more income from my investments than I do from my websites. What's better is that my investments are mostly tax free!

Summary

Wow, there's a lot of text to read here (8904 words in fact) but I hope you do read it because there are some incredible tips here.

Did you spot the one about moving your side navigation from the right side to the left side of the page? One store did that and their sales increased by 30%!

So maybe you better go back up to the top and start reading this post again. This time read every single damned word!

So what blogging tip did you like best, and what other tips do you have? Leave a comment below.

Uh oh, I don't have a comments system on this site yet. Now I do. But wouldn't it be wonderful for the user experience (and SEO) if you COULD leave comments on any page on this site? Well I know what I need to add to this site after lunch. See what I mean - never stop developing your own sites! When you get a good idea, make it happen.

 

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4 Comments

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Dan   19 February 2019

Amazing tips - thanks for sharing. Now I'm gonna check all my sites and see what I can do to make them look funkier.

 

theCraftr   24 February 2019

Interesting post. I guess I'm a bit like you when it comes to outreaching, but it's a good piece of advice. Thanks!

 

Website Traffic Zone   06 March 2019

I like the part about hiring a coder to help bring your software ideas to life. I almost decided to learn myself but don't want to invest the time required.
Thanks - WTZ

 

Peter K   13 April 2019

Great tips to keep us going. I have a question, I purchased the Wordpress.com premium plan for 8$ per month to run my first blog and now I start to understand its limitations. Where should I mitigate to? I have paid for a full year and wouldn't like to waste the money. My blog is [https://p2pincome.eu/]P2P Income[/url]

 

 

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