Once I had my niche chosen, the products I was going to promote sorted, and my (badly designed) structure in place, it was time to grow the site.
Back when I first started, I didn't believe that I needed to worry about backlinks or outreach or any of the strategies I now swear by.
What I did instead, was write three posts per week for the first few months. I may have missed one or two articles, but for the most part I was publishing 10-12 articles a month. It was very much a case of write, write, write, publish publish publish!
Once a new post was published, I would share it on Twitter, G+, and in a G+ community I was in with other IM'ers. The idea was that we would comment on one another's posts and share them. Back then, everyone believe that Google Plus was going to be huge, authorship was a vital ranking factor, and comments and plus 1's would rank a site by themselves.
While Google probably was testing these things as ranking factors, I never really saw much positive movement with my site.
This brings me onto a point I would like to make to all beginners and first-time niche site owners.
One of the hardest things about succeeding with a website is that you often have to wait months and months before you find out if what you're doing is going to work.
After four months of publishing content 3 times a week, and having very little to show for it, I stopped.
Here's what my traffic looked like after 4 months:
I know now that this is normal for the first few months of a site's life, and that I should have waited longer, but back then all I could see was I was working so hard and had little to show for it with this site.
I'd made money with other sites before but this one was proving to be very stubborn, and I was disheartened to say the least.
I pretty much abandoned the site and thought about selling it. It was making about $20 per month, so I thought there was potential to at least get SOMETHING for it and move on.
It was only later that I returned to it, and ironically enough, traffic had increased to about 1,500 views per day without me doing anything. I guess my site had just needed a bit more time.
In the next post, I'll talk about what I finally did to get the site successful in the next few months after I returned to it, but for now I'd like to talk more about the concept of blogging and content in general.
When Content Isn't Enough
I don't like the expression "Content is King."
It creates the belief that content is all you need.
Now don't get me wrong, content IS the most important part of success with a niche site. Without content there's nothing. You can't rank a site with no content. You can't get affiliate commissions with no content. You can't get build a site with no content.
However, a pitfall many people make is to focus only on content, and this is what happened to me with this site.
The Meaning of Keystone
We throw terms around all the time without necessarily understanding their full meaning. Do you know what a keystone really is? Maybe it's obvious to you, but let's refresh by looking at this handy picture:
As you can see, the keystone is the most important stone in an arch. Take that out, and the whole thing collapses.
Think of content as your keystone.
But don't forget the other stones either! If you don't have them, you've just got a bit of marble sitting in the middle of a river. Not an ideal way to build success.
Those other stones are onpage SEO, offpage SEO, CTA's, social shares, and the other important parts of growing a site.
You need them all.
I think one of the main reason people choose to believe all they need to focus on is content, is because it's easy.
All I have to do is keep writing and I'll make money? Result! Let's go.
It sounds a lot easier than "Well once you've figured out the whole niche and content structure and keywords and stuff, then you've got to promote the site".
Plus, when they first start, people learn how to write content, how to promote products, how to research keywords and how to build a niche site; the thought that they then have to learn how to promote all that content can be intimidating. Especially when you think that promoting content usually involves interacting with others.
If you're feeling worried about being able to rank a site, all I can say is that you can learn. I knew nothing about ranking a site before I started trying to rank them, but I kept learning, and even to this day I still learn.
Learn how to write content first, how to do your niche research, but as soon as you can, learn the next steps too.