In today's post we have a Q&A session with Stuart Walker of NicheHacks fame. Many of you are already familiar with him, but for those who aren't, you can learn all about him below. I first “met” Stuart back in early 2014 when both of our sites were around 6 months old, and I've learned a lot from him since then.
Stuart is constantly reminding people that Google isn't the only source of traffic, and if you've spent any time in his Facebook group, you'll know that he is often saying that the key to getting traffic is to “Find out where your audience hangs out online”.
In other words, while you're waiting for your site to rank in Google, you've got to hang out in forums, Facebook groups, or other websites in your niche. If you're making the right content (which Stuart goes into later), then you'll be able to get those people to your site.
I'm planning to produce more of these alternative-traffic type posts, so let this be a good introduction.
Stuart also talks about various other things to do with niches and traffic in this post, and I'm sure it will be a very insightful read.
Over to Stuart!
Before we start, who are you, what do you do, and where can people find you?
I'm Stuart, I run a blog called NicheHacks.com as my primary online business where I reveal profitable niches and talk about blogging and affiliate marketing.
1.) You are pretty much the go-to guy on picking niches. What makes a niche work? How does it make it into one of your niche reports?
I try and pick relatively broad niches to showcase on the blog and then show various sub-niches and ways they can be tackled and then going super specific around really narrow keywords so that there's a wide variety of ways people can attack the niche.
If I was to focus on revealing stuff like “best adjustable dumbbells” there's not really much scope for a site like that, very limited growth and everyone who tried to get in on the niche would be pretty much doing exactly the same thing and following the same strategy.
Most of the niches featured on the site are hobby and activity niches, some health, make money type niches – I think these are more appealing for most people who are new to online marketing.
2.) Once someone has chosen a niche, what should they do next?
Well there's no right and wrong way, there's dozens of business models.
I cover a few of the main website based ones for affiliate marketing here: http://nichehacks.com/profitable-affiliate-sites/
So you need to basically:
- Pick your niche
- Decide on your business model
- Work out how you'll monetize it.
- Create content
- Drive Traffic
- Funnel onto an email list
- Sell stuff
That's the basic process. How you do that is up to you – could be a blog, a membership site, a small affiliate site, an info-product.
I prefer the blogging model and it's worked well for me and allowed me to utilize different business models around my blog – membership site, aff marketing, digital products etc.
3.) How do you respond to people who say “…But I’m not an expert in anything”?
You don't need to be.
It's about positioning. If you know something about a topic you know more than someone who's just discovered it for the first time.
So those would be your target audience not the experts.
Just market to the right people.
4.) You are a big proponent of not relying on Google for your traffic. What would you recommend to anyone about getting traffic to a new site?
I'm moving towards paid traffic and wish I had sooner. It just makes sense. You don't have to spend a lot of time on hustling to get it like you do when using free, non SEO, traffic like guest blogging, forum marketing, content marketing etc.
You can just pay for it and when you have your ads dialled in and doing what they should be scale up.
If you've no money to pay for it then get out there and hustle. Go where your audience and the players in your niche are and hustle for it, guest post, blog comment, post content fto forums, share on sharing sites and social media, feature experts on your blog.
5.) What kind of content works best for these “alternative” traffic sources?
I don't think there's any one type of content that works well. We talk about out 20 favourite content types here: http://nichehacks.com/20-types-blog-post-drive-traffic-blog/
6.) What kind of traffic is the most “valuable” in terms of sales, conversions, subscribers etc?
Email traffic has continued to be my most important asset.
It's how I was able to build NicheHacks up to a 50,000+ visitor a month blog and growing every month despite the fact I've not promoted it or marketed it for about a year.
I have done 1 guest post in the past 18 months since we started, I haven't blog commented or participated in a forum for ages, I'm rubbish at social media outside my own FB group, I've not networked with anyone new for months.
And I've just gotten into paid traffic now.
I just focused on making sure as many people as possible who visited ended up on my list. Through lead magnets (http://nichehacks.com/email-list-freebie/) and really focusing on making growing my list a priority (http://nichehacks.com/increase-email-list/)
That's allowed me to continually drive traffic back to the site and to affiliate offers and my own products and generate income from the blog.
7.) What’s more important in the beginning; writing new content, driving traffic, link building or something else?
For me it has to be great content (without if you have nothing) and using that content to get people onto your email list so you can contact them again and again and again and use them to drive traffic back to your site and sales messages.
8.) When you start NicheHacks, you got traffic pretty quickly. How much traffic did you have after 3, 6 and 12 months, and what methods did you use to get it?
I used the skyscraper technique, manual outreach, content marketing, forum posting, blog commenting, email marketing mostly.
9.) What are the traffic source percentages of NicheHacks today?
Looking at it from the start of this year:
Organic Search: 48%
Direct: 27% (this includes traffic from my email list as I still haven't figured out how to track)
Quite surprising to see that organic search has the biggest overall percentage. – didn't expect that so should have paid more attention to that sooner, could potentially be a problem.
We haven't really done any keyword research or built any forced links so it's all natural rankings.
10.) Name three websites that inspired you, or have taught you the most since you started NicheHacks
Backlinko.com for this ideas of content creation and promotion (yet I don't do SEO and I still find it useful)
DigitalMarketer.com – it's the best online marketing blog in the world IMO for anyone who wants to treat their website like a real business, they talk about real business stuff such as paid traffic, email opt ins, sales funnels etc and back it all up with data and real life examples (they make me so much money it's unreal)
MatthewWoodward.co.uk – I remember when he first launched his blog. Was a huge inspiration for me to see how he approached it, his content and tutorials were some of the best quality I'd seen in ages. Loved his personal approach too.
11.) What does NicheHacks provide that no other site does?
Niches. Haven't seen anyone else do it. At least not in any meaningful way or on the level we have. We've got thousands of them. Tons of reports.
If you want a niche idea what other blog would you go to?
12.) Where do you see NicheHacks going in the future?
A good question. I think about this ALL The time.
There's a big issue (for me anyway) is that the misconception that NH is all about “niche marketing” i.e. small affiliate review sites that rank in Google.
It's NOT. It never has been and never will be. We barely even cover that. Topics on creating small affiliate sites are few.
We hardly have any SEO content (I'm the guy who's always telling everyone not to focus too much on SEO)
Every site (more or less) has a niche. A niche is a topic. The more specific topic the better.
You need niches for affiliate sites, blogs, info-products and anything else you create.
Most of our content is on blogging. I'm always talking about creating “niche authority” sites or blogs that have long term opportunities and appeal.
The example I always give is SurvivalLife.com.
The niche is survival / preppers. They are the #1 site in their niche. An authority. They do $1 million a month in sales.
So they are both niche AND authority. The two aren't necessarily different.
But it's hard to change peoples perspectives on what “niche marketing” means or what “nich hacks” means as to most people the word “niche” is associated with small, product review sites, that rank in Google.
People are constantly misunderstanding what the site is about and referring to me as “the SEO guy” or “the niche marketing” guy.
It's my own fault. I didn't think through the name or define clearly enough who I wanted to target and appeal to in the beginning, things weren't focused and specific enough.
So I would like to somehow re-define or refocus the site so that we can make it clear what we are about, more specific, and more focused to a particular group of people.
Right now things are a bit all over the place.
How we do that I'm still not 100% sure. It might take time.
But the site isn't going anywhere or under any major chances any time soon. 🙂