EFP 66: Comparing 3 Vastly Different Approaches To Niche Site Creation

Justin Cooke

October 4, 2013

There are plenty of different ways to go about building niche sites. Many of the different paths share some commonalities (keyword research, content creation, etc.) while others are greatly different from each other. Which method is the best approach? More importantly…which way is best for YOU.

The Different Roads to Successful Niche Sites

In episode 66, Joe and I sit down to compare some of the advantages and disadvantages with these different methods for building niche sites. We’ll be looking at Pat Flynn’s approach with both NSD 1.0 and NSD 2.0, discussing Spencer Haws’ method in building out niche websites, and our approach as laid out in our guide, “Building A Niche Site Empire”. We’ll also discuss the types of entrepreneurs that are in the best position to be taking each approach.

If you’re at all involved in building profitable websites online this is an episode that will likely interest you. I’ll cut to the punchline: All three methods have their merits and risks…the best entrepreneurs will blend all three of these approaches to find their own way, building sites that work best for them.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Selecting a winner for the GetMeListedNow site giveaway!
  • Pat Flynn’s NSD – Chance to OWN the niche and build a nice barrier to entry, but can anyone build these types of sites? Who are these sites best for?
  • The Spencer Haws Approach – Scalable sites with various monetization methods, but are they Google-proof? Who should build these types of sites?
  • Empire Flippers Approach – Easy to build for someone just starting out and quick to the money, but can you really make long-term cash with this? Who should build these sites?
  • False assumptions and speculation from the peanut gallery


So…which approach is a better fit for you? Think we were spot-on with our assessments or were we out to lunch on this one? Let us know on Twitter or leave us a comment – we’d love to hear your thoughts here!

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  1. This was a really informative discussion. It provides some great information as far as buying sites, selling sites, and by extension, developing sites that others will want to buy. Understanding the different types of niches sites gives you valuable insights into what results you can expect, and how much work you will need to put in to make it work.

  2. Guys,
    I remember than in one of your podcast, possibly this one, you mentioned that content can be reused letting the Google cache expire, so that it appears as new.
    Or did I dream about it?!

    I’ve an old project with nice content but hit hard by Panda 2y ago. All the attempts to clean the backlink profile and improve the onpage optimization failed, so I’m thinking about abandon that domain and re-use the content on a new one.

    Is it doable and how long is the Google cache memory?


    • Very doable. There are two ways to do this. Take down the old site and wait 3 months for the content to come out of the cache. You can verify the content is out with the “site:domain.com” command in Google. The other way is to 301 redirect your site to a new domain, but this could lead to the penalty carrying over to the new domain.

  3. Great episode. It really boiled down to quality vs quantity. And the conclusion was so true – it depends on what you’re fond of, although all options have flaws. To me, SEO would be the biggest consideration, as getting to the point where it doesn’t matter (most of yout traffic comes outside of Google) requires for you to first GET that traffic, most likely through Google. So while Pat’s approach may seem like a good way to not depend on SEO, it’s still what you’ll most often do when starting.

  4. Ryan says:

    I am taking place in the niche site dual. The aggressive approach to competition really forces the call to action most popular entrepreneurs ask of their audience, and or offer as advice. I suppose the key is to really sit-down and consider what you feel works best for you, but TAKE ACTION, no less!


  5. James Clark says:

    Thanks for the shoutout, Justin! Too bad I missed you in HCMC but I will see you in Bangkok at least :)

  6. Chicken Cast says:

    Great episode! I agree with your 3 classifications 100%. My problem is I have tried to do level 3’s in the first instance instead of mastering 2 or 1’s. Also, regarding level 3 sites and personality tie-ins; I have tried to emulate the Pat Flynn and Mark Mason examples, but it’s not me. That drains me! I would rather be the wizard behind the curtain!

  7. RJ Cid says:

    Tung! Whats up man?! I am looking at your adjustableweights site as a guide for one of my sites. Well, its a mix of survival knife and your’s. Eitherway, I wish i was building sites 10 years ago at 19. Id probably would have had a better time in my 20s.

    In any event, really dig your stuff. I love that how to build your own blog network post you created, even bookmarked it and will be using it this weekend as I attempt to “start” the process.

    Hope all is well and enjoy Bangkok with these guys!

  8. Justin Cooke says:

    Hey, man…lots of love for ya! :-)

    Would love to have a chat with you on the show or a guest post in the future…maybe Nov/Dec when Joe and I are both back in Davao?

  9. RJ Cid says:

    Great topic. I feel that many people get started and are sold into the level 3 type of online businesses the Pat Flynn type of niche sites. This is good if you have a lot of experience and want to share that with others, as well as putting yourself out there.

    I am currently working at learning how to do the NichePursuits’ knife type sites. They can be made with the same amount of energy as the tiny micro sites and you get more bang fro your buck – without having to put yourself outthere. Also, these level 2 type sites could probably do really well in flippa and its worth the time and effort.

    the micro sites also takes skill; processing, knowledgeable seo, basic site creation, optiizing for adsense. I tried this route and to be honest, its just not worth it unless its in bulk and that is – IMO – not going to produce enough within a relatively shorter time.

    I think that the most important would be the process and learning how to multiply the level 2 sites. I WANT to go down the “mmo” route as I can add value – but id rather kill it in an industry that lacks that similar business model and proper information site.

    I been redoing a ton of my sites to get up to the level 2 niche sites. mostly product review and one is a BIG one I could really use help with ::hint hint::

    In any event. You guys are with me everyday in the car, on my runs, and before i pass out, as I envision that day I can have my 10-15 level 2 sites an 1-3 leve 3 sites… =)

    • Glad we could help RJ and I agree the level 2 type sites are probably the best way to go. For newcomers don’t discount the valuable skills you can learn with micro niche sites though. It’s a cheap and easy way to get started.

    • Thoufeeq says:

      I agree with with you, RJ Cid.

      I am currently working on 2 level-2 sites (only home page content is published). But what I don’t like about this model is that its quite tough to get ranked for the chosen keywords since they are “buyer keywords” related to physical products , SERPs being dominated with ecommerce sites like amazon, target, etc,

      I keep in mind what Spencer published in one of his blog posts why he never go after ecommerce keywords, no matter how easy it seems. This makes me reconsider this business model.

      But again, his public niche site case study was about physical product reviews monetized with amazon associates. It confuses a lot sometimes.. :P

      • Guest says:

        wow, some really good points, RJ Cid.

        Glad to know that u too follow Tung Tran @cloudlivingjourney.com. :)

        I agree with what you said. As observed from my keyword research experience since a few months, “where to buy xyz”, “best portable xyz” are also being dominated by ecommerce sites.

        I tried some jewelry keywords, ridiculously long tail ones. (7 to 8 word phrase) finely targeted and has a lot of buyer intend; but when i search for it, its again those ecommerce sites ranking on top, with little to no slots available for wordpress made niche sites, even though the latter has the perfect on-page SEO setup.

        Anyways, it looks like its more about the amount of general content (lengthy articles) sprinkled with affiliate links thats gonna help rather than relying on “where to buy xyz” “xyz best price”, etc. But again, they may contain the least buyer intend, as the searcher has just started his research about the product. :)

        This is where i struggle a lot. :P

        About the expired domains for backlinking, no comments! I agree 100%

        Thank you very much for the reply…

        • Justin Cooke says:

          Tung Tran is a cool/sharp dude…I’m looking forward to meeting up with him next week in Bangkok!

        • RJ Cid says:

          Hey hey, great discussion here. Imma keep it going :::untz untz untz untz::: (my party sound)

          A few things I would like to dig into and see if this helps. 1. Trying some jewelery keywords sounds like some work, but minimal was done. If the proper keyword research is done, you should know what kind of niche that jewelry is in and how competitive it is. I am looking to enter harder niches (using longtailpro, these would be keywords with a KW competitive number above 40), and although that main keyword is tough – this only tells me what is going on in Google, but with further research I know I can compete because of the various platforms I can use to still get in front of audience. (Twitter, YOUTUBE, facebook, pinterest… ) Check out cool podcast about platforms here: http://www.internetbusinessmastery.com/ibm-206-build-social-media/

          2. Having great seo still can mean bunk depending on your niche competitiveness. As you can see, Justin and Joe like going for keywords where basic seo and a few low-haning backlinks can do the job and get traffic. But if you are in really competitive fields, aka jewelery, you have to set it up as a level 2. You may need to do something incredibly different and useful to get people to notice you.

          What I am thinking is, you can rank for almost, ALMOST any keyword. We gotta just take a universal approach and not rely on google rankings for our business to work. Here is a good podcast about the ecommerce jewelery business you may find value in: http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-15-building-a-niche-ecommerce-business-with-nathan-hartnett/

          3. If the outcome is worth it, be invested in the process. TWEET THAT lol. Its just a matter of time before you start getting traffic with your niche. Maybe 10 articles wont “cut it” but 20 will, in fact Spencer Haws has been saying he only buils sites with 20+ pages now. I am trying to answer as many questions I can find online about my niche and go to iwriter.com to have smoeone create a post about it. I still have not seen traffic spike, but, its grown from 50 to 100 in just 2 weeks and I am still in building mode.

          We all struggle!! I am spinning figuring out how to actually “get it right this time”. Traffic is there, but not sales/clicks. so its always a learning process and hopefully, :::hint hint::: a certain duo/podcast team/online entrepreneurs can take a few minutes of their time to help a brotha out…

          Lol, yeah, that was a long response, didnt see that comming! lol

          • Justin Cooke says:

            RJ Cid – I think you make a damn fine point here. The strength/competitiveness of the keyword and/or niche is going to somewhat determine whether it’s a level 1 site, level 2, level 3, etc. If I was targeting the keyword “weight loss” my wimpy level 1 site definitely won’t cut it! (I would argue that none of us here should be targeting a keyword that broad, but that’s beyond the scope of this comment, heh)

          • Thoufeeq says:

            Hey RJ Cid,

            I see some results after digging a bit deep. I got some really nice search phrases which I never thought of. These are long tail ones, still in the competitive niche, 0 searches, yet feels like worthy. I feel like “think of candle store” strategy definitely works :P

            And u r right again! Simply relying on google would tell u if the niche is competitive or not, but nothing beyond that. So setting up a level-2 site in this niche needs a lot more than lengthy content & table-press plugin :)


    • Justin Cooke says:

      Awesome, RJ Cid.

      I agree with you that the level 3 type sites aren’t for everyone. The level 2 sites seem to be a healthy balance and are in the repeatable/scalable zone that we look for. Glad you’re digging the podcast, man!

  10. Thoufeeq says:

    I think this is the right place to discuss about one of your sites sold in flippa auctions recently. https://flippa.com/2974952-637-last-30-days-13-6k-uniques-kitchen-niche-adsense-site-1-no-reserve

    I have a few questions:

    1. When I checked the site using site:domain.com in google, it shows 2000+ indexed pages. Is it due to the tags and categories being indexed as separate pages?

    2. Roughly how many pages of content in the site? or how much do you think is required to make this many page views per month, in this particular niche?

    3. What are the type of backlinks used? Links were built consistently till the auction? Total cost for backlinking alone?

    4. What about the images used in the site? Are they taken from google searches? If so, won’t there be any copyright issues?

    5. If I add 2 – 3 good quality pics in each post, would that cause me trouble in my shared hosting, as the size of the website becomes too high by the time i finish publishing some 150+ pages?

    I hope you would reply to my questions.

    Thanks in advance,

    • Well, I’m on vacation, so nothing like answering a multi part comment while I watch the sunset and drink a cocktail. ;-)

      1) Yes, they are’t all posts or pages. However this is the power of WordPress. Sometimes these tag and category pages can rank for long tails.

      2) Really I have no idea, several hundred posts for sure. And adding 3 new posts a week at minimum is required as spelled out in the auction.

      3) None. No off page SEO or back linking was done. Check the link profile in Open Site Explorer on Moz.com. This shows the power of good content.

      4) I think this was addressed in the auction, but here it is again “The images are found by searching the internet and using properties that do not have watermarks or other associated private message warnings. If the seller received a complaint (he never has) he would take down the image and replace with another.” and “I understand your concern and while you raise a valid point, we have used the exact same process to find images for over 3k sites we created in the last few years. We have never had an issue in using literally thousands of images. Please see our guide, blog, and overall process at EmpireFlippers.com for details. ”

      5) You would have to contact your hosting company about that. We don’t have those issues.

      • Thoufeeq says:

        Thanks a ton, Joseph.

        There’s nothing like getting a prompt reply from gurus. ;-)

        (And I am sorry that I failed to notice some points you have already addressed in the auction description.)

        So I hope i can continue the conversation right here, if I have any more valid questions any time in this particular topic. :)

        Thanks again!

  11. civillibros says:

    in the next post, you could compare some SEO Services, like layered links, the hoth, group of fiver gigs, paid networking blogs like unique article wizard, submit my article, and let us know why you will buy it, with his budget:

    i need your opinion thanks, i mean for each type of site example for a path site you recommend this SEO package, for a spencer site this type of package, and for your micro niche sites you recomend only this, that would be very hepfull thanks

    • Interesting, but we have always said these SEO services are probably best left alone. You’re playing russian roulette with your sites, IMHO. Just a matter of time before Google catches up to you and dings the site. It’s just too risky long term especially because we sell the sites.

  12. Troy Swezey says:

    What is the opinion on purchasing content for a small to medium niche site? Joe / Justin mentioned Odesk but…
    I recently purchased several pages from someone I had previously worked with at Fiverr. This time his work was terrible so I hired someone else to write articles on the same KWs. I compared the text from the two ‘writers’ and they were practically the same, obviously spun, even though both claimed they would write original articles.
    How do you guys make sure you are going to get truly original content? I guess it would entail spending more than $5 for 500 words?

    • We use content editors. Our editors fine writers on iwriter.com, hirewriters.com, and fiverr.com. Then then check for spelling, grammar and originality. If the article does not pass the test we send it back and ask them to rewrite. If it just needs minor revisions, the editors make those directly and passes them on to be posted.

      So yes, $5 is an article cost that does not include the editor’s time.

      • Troy Swezey says:

        They FINE writers? Wow! Harsh.
        Just kidding Buddy.
        Right, I have found it worth my time to have to fix minor grammar issues or ‘fine’ vs ‘find’ by myself because that part is easy. (I can’t afford to hire content editors yet.) Actually composing 500 words is harder and takes a lot more time.
        I just worry about getting dinged by The Googles for have spun content from someone who said it was original and I did not catch it. :(
        PS- Thanks for the awesome podcasts and lessons.

      • civillibros says:

        how they test the spelling, gammar and originality?, maybe is spun content but pass 100% copyscape, what other tools you use to verify?

  13. David Miller says:

    Don’t know what to say about niche site anymore. I just read a material http://www.nlcacademy.net/seo/penguin-2-1-rolled-out-last-night-niche-sites-are-drowning/ that says Spencer was hit by the latest Penguin update. Any news from you guys? Are your sites still ranking well today?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey David,

      Please keep in mind that Spencer’s site was extremely public and, some months ago, someone dumped links on his public site. It’s not terribly surprising that his site ended up taking a hit because of that. I’m sure Spencer will be out with an update in a few days. My guess is that he has plenty of (private) sites that are just fine.

      If you’re looking for reasons NOT to build niche sites, there are plenty of other examples besides this obscure blog article to keep you from getting started. AdSense/SEO is dead, too reliant on Google, etc…there are plenty of reasons from credible sources. If you’re looking for a process that’s 100% foolproof, please let me know when you find it! :-)

  14. abhi says:

    I have been following your blog since past 9-10 months. No doubt you publish great quality podcasts, but it would be better if you provide transcript of the podcast as well for the users having limited bandwidth or speed restriction. Myself have to wait for few days to download because of bandwidth constraints. I hope you take it as request.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Sorry about that, Abhi. I’m in Cambodia right now with awfully slow internet and I definitely feel your pain! We have a number of transcripts that have been completed but not posted to the site yet. I’ll get on this in November when I get back and (hopefully) we can get caught up on the transcripts…

  15. Iain Robson says:

    Great episode.

    Loved how you guys broke it down based on different approaches.

    I totally agree with guys and what Pat Flynn is doing isn’t too feasible for a lot of people. It is definitely a full time job with what he is trying to do. It’s awesome but I think a lot of people were looking at what Pat did as not staying true to NSD 1.

    It’s his prerogative to do what he wants though right.

    I’ve tried Spencer’s strategy and it works for the most part. I feel that his process needs a bit more backlinking to be effective. Whereas your strategy works without any linkbuilding.

    Pat’s strategy is totally a natural link building strategy. Something like what Matthew Woodward does with his zero link building strategy.

    Loved this episode.

    • Glad you liked it!

      I think Spencer overdoes it on the link building and for good reason — he picks more competitive niches. With a good blog network in place and an expired domain, link building should be minimal.

      I would rather have a safe site at position 5 or 6 than a risky site at 1 or 2. Link building adds that risk. Perhaps that’s because I have so many sites though.

      • Iain Robson says:

        Yeah for sure. The size of the website and the competitiveness comes into play as well.

        Also, providing value by answering the question the person is asking is becoming more important now as well.

        I good mix of higher risk sites with lower ones would be ideal. You have to diversify your portfolio right. That’s obviously why Spencer and your guys also have software.

        Having all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

  16. sebi 20 says:

    nice podcast guys. Cool infos. In fact, I am interested in buying the 300$ brokerage package from empire flippers but I disabled the adsense ads 2 weeks ago because I tried to sell the website on flippa. I can apply for the package right now, without the last 2 weeks of revenue?
    the revenue of the last 8 months is 157$ and from the last 60-30 is about 150$

    thanks !

    • It’s probably best you wait at least 60 days to apply, as the numbers will look funny and affect the asking price. It’s something we would have to explain and buyers might be turned off.

  17. bobdak says:

    OK .. I am now famous … made the Empire Flippers podcast … Thanks Justin an Joe made my day … I am re-doing my resume to include my co-hosting talents on the Empire Flippers podcast!! JK … Disappointed I did not win the SEO website but Congratulations to Mark … hope that works out well for you .. hit me up Mark if you need a partner or help … I don’t know what J & J are doing but you guys are putting out some great podcast lately … this one is excellent … it’s one I will listen to 2 or 3 more times for sure…. thanks again guys … stay healthy – looking forward to next weeks episode …

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