Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by Jeremy
At the start of COVID quarantine, I decided to start new niche sites that were focused on products with the goal of making money via affiliate sales and, if possible down the line, ads with networks like Mediavine.
Six months back, we shared an update on what we were doing with each niche product site and gave some goals for the future. As it has been a while since that update, I thought it was time to share more information on how things are going and share some changes that we are considering making to improve our sites outright.
As a quick recap, we have two product sites with a bare minimum number of articles, Doctor of Coffee and What is Sous Vide, as well as a more robust wine blog called The Grape Pursuit. The former two were designed to be low page count sites to push products, with the sous vide site trying to tap into the exact match keyword as well. The wine blog is run more like a traditional blog with posts every week or so on general wine topics as well as focused wine reviews.
With that recap out of the way, let's talk about the status.
Doctor of Coffee and What is Sous Vide
For this update, we are going to lump the two low article count sites together. Both of these have about 6-8 pages in total and, unfortunately, have not been able to receive that much of my time. So in the last six months, we only added roughly one article on each. Oops.
As neither of these sites has corresponding social media by design (apart from Pinterest), our ability to promote them has been limited. I've not yet tested Google Ads, and honestly am not that surprised that both only get just a pageview or two a day. My marketing for these has been pretty terrible, and I'll be the first to admit it, but it is cool to see Google traffic starting to trickle in either way.
Our goal of trying to get the exact match ranking for the sous vide blog has also stalled as well. I still think it is possible, but just not at the level of work we've done on the site quite yet. Again, that is on me.
Doctor of Coffee is still sitting at $0.06 in overall commission (same as before) but What is Sous Vide has made $4.07 via a few sales- encouraging for the concept but not terribly strong either way mostly due to my very poor marketing of these two sites. We have plans for these two sites which we will discuss more after The Grape Pursuit as we have some lessons learned in how it is growing relative to these smaller sites.
The Grape Pursuit
The Grape Pursuit is a night and day difference from the low-impact niche product sites. Here, we have been updating the site with 1-2 articles weekly, are acquiring subscribers to our newsletter (we have about 40), and have been promoting the site robustly on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest specifically). As of publishing this article, we have just under 2,200 followers on Instagram and just under 600 on Facebook and growing steadily.
As such, this site is getting about 100-200 page views per day after the first year, with the bulk coming in directly from Google and a smaller percentage from our newsletter and Facebook ads. So far we've made about $133 from the site, which is an increase of $118 from our last update. We have had a mix of wine products on Amazon as well as even one wine order from Wine.com! We've also started to get samples shipped to us from wineries looking for reviews, which we think is kind of a fun offshoot from that even if there is no money involved there.
What I've come to find out on this site; however, is that the general topics are contributing to our page views. Things like broad wine product guides, wine courses (WSET), etc. Our individual wine reviews and single product reviews are so specific that they may only bring in one pageview a day or so each. But what we're seeing here is how that comes together for our site as a whole. The broad general articles are getting read and linked to in larger volume, but this is helping buoy the very specific niche posts on the site outright.
To give an example, we published a review for Wine Skins with a keyword that only has a few hundred searches per month. Due to the popularity of the site and its regular updates, it started ranking #3 for that keyword and was getting a few clicks a day. But because that keyword was targeting people who want a reason to buy, we're now getting sales somewhat frequently for < $1 per sale.
To me, this is what I think is lacking in the other two product sites as 6-8 page standalone websites with no marketing simply isn't enough. It was only when we got over about 100 pages on the wine blog (we're now over 150), with some general and some very specific topics, that we started to see some traction in search results. To be honest, for the topics of coffee and sous vide I simply think we're just never going to get there. But this auditing of the sites did give us an idea, and we are thinking about expanding our scope.
Next Stop – Combining Sites Into One Niche
The main takeaway I've had when comparing these sites is the final point in the last section- it is really hard for a niche site to take off without regular updates and a minimum number of articles (~100). People can get lucky and obviously be significantly better at marketing it than I was, but for the level of effort I was wanting to put into these sites, it wasn't working out the way I hoped.
To be perfectly honest, we just don't envision ourselves having enough content on the topics of coffee or sous vide cooking to create new articles regularly and get close to that target. So we are moving in a new direction.
The idea for this is still being worked on, but we are going to do the opposite of most conventional advice in this shift- go broader in our niche, not tighter. I think we tightened things down too much that the scope and content production abilities were inherently limited. We haven't roasted coffee in months, and only do the same recipes in our sous vide for the time being. There may be a few more articles we can crank out, but that is it.
The goal of this new shift is going to combine these plus other interesting food hobbies into one site under a global umbrella. Still “niche” by food blogging standards, but approaching this at a broader angle such that we can throw in other cooking things we obsess over beyond sous vide and coffee. This will allow us to still build a brand that includes coffee and sous vide content, but also allows us to still produce an article every week or so, promote on social media, and build a following the way we have with the wine blog.
Ultimately our hope is that we have more opportunities for general content to do well on this broader site for traffic purposes, and in the process build authority such that these very specific, product-driven articles can also benefit from ranking. As we found with our wine blog above when you have an article in front of someone ready to buy, they will, but we need more authority overall with Google to get to that point.
Are we going to share more on this one? No, not yet, but hopefully in the next six months we'll have a new combo site that merges these two concepts into one and then will have four proper blogs to manage.
I'm already tired of thinking about it, but I do feel confident that it is the right thing to do for long-term success.
What would you do if you were in this scenario? Comment below to share!