So you are interested in starting a niche blog to make money? Great. Let me tell you how I fell into a popular niche, did 10 or less hours worth of work each week, and made $30,000 in 18 months.
To be honest, I never intended on selling my hobby blog, it was just a hobby. But it grew so big, so fast, that I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. Especially since I have a young son and this blog.
I could have grown this niche site for another year – if I had the motivation to do so – and would have made a lot more money. But as things go, I wanted to send the site off with a capable buyer and put all of my work into Mommy Thrives
So here is my real life story on how I started, grew, and sold my niche hobby blog.
Falling Into My Niche
Early on in my blogging on this site I had created a few posts centered around my love of bullet journaling. If you don’t know bullet journaling is like a personal whole life planner, if fact you can read all about bullet journaling here.
These posts skyrocketed my traffic and I was looking into doing more posts related to bullet journaling. Then I got the brilliant idea that I would just create an entire site on bullet journaling.
My reasons for starting a second niche site were pretty clear. It would diversify my income leaving me with two sources instead of one. Bullet journaling was a clear topic that has plenty of content options in a not so crowded niche.
We got to work and quickly put a site together for bullet journaling. I started the site with 20 new posts and I committed to posting at least once a week for about 6 months and life was good.
After two months of the site being live I moved all of the bullet journal related posts from this site over to the new niche site.
If I had known the process of selling a site and that I was eventually going to sell I would have used SiteGround for my hosting instead of Digital Ocean. While Digital Ocean by far is a long term more affordable and better option for hosting needs, having the niche site on it’s own SiteGround account would have made the transfers a bit easier.
How I Drove Traffic
About two months into the niche site being live I redirected the bullet journal posts I had on MommyThrives over to the new site. Since the posts I had initially on this site already had pins on Pinterest, the redirects we put in place when transferring those posts drove a lot of traffic.
Within two months or three months I was at 15,000 pageviews a month, which at the time was enough to get my site on Mediavine since I had already had another site. The rules regarding this have changed though and now you have to have 50,000 sessions to get ads through Mediavine on your site.
At the time of starting the new site I had a new way of doing things on Pinterest. First, I did nothing with group boards because they are just a waste of time. I also wanted this site to be less time consuming so I immediately signed up for Tailwind.
Each new blog post got 3 pins to start with, and every so often I would go through and create new pins for older posts.
Check out my post on how I use Tailwind to get over 250,000 pageviews a month on this blog.
I had my schedule set up to pin between 15 and 20 pins a day, about 5 of them would be third party pins. Though there were weeks at a time when no third party pins would go out. Each pin would go to between 15-20 boards – by the way, I only recommend a max of 10 boards now.
I had Pinterest on auto pilot and because bullet journaling was a Pinterest popular topic, it just worked beautifully for me. I was getting about 30,000 pageviews from Pinterest every month and that grew to about almost 100,000 during the busy season and 50-60,000 during the slow season.
Tailwind made marketing the niche site on Pinterest easy, less time consuming, and allowed me to set it and forget it. This freed me up a bit in the marketing aspect to do a little work on Facebook and Instagram, though truth be told I was spotty in my posting on those two platforms.
Save loads of time by scheduling your pins using Tailwind. Tailwind is the must have scheduling tool to use for scheduling your Pinterest pins. It saves you time and puts your Pinterest marking on auto-pilot. Click here to start saving time now!
No one tells you how easy SEO is on a niche site. This is because with a niche site you are deemed an authority on the topic. Ranking comes much more naturally on a niche site.
At the time of deciding to sell my hobby blog Google made up for 50% of my incoming traffic, Pinterest made up for about 40%, and the rest was made up of a few different avenues. So here is my biggest tip on SEO on a niche site. Get ready cause it’s a doozy of a tip.
Focus solely on providing what your reader wants.
That’s it. I did barely any keyword research. I didn’t spend hours analyzing my competition. There was no big time consuming task. I just wrote good content that my readers would search for and want to view.
The thing is with SEO this is not new information. Google actually wants us to do this on all our blogs. This is their biggest point. You write great content that helps your readers and they will handle all the hard stuff. My niche site really drove home that point to me.
Additionally, if your niche site is in a topic that you yourself are knowledgeable in it makes it easier to have natural SEO. Natural SEO is ultimately what Google wants.
How I Monetized It
About 3 months after the site went live I was able to go to Mediavine and have ads put on the site. The first month I made over $250. After that I was making between $600 and $1500. The low end of that number represents the slow traffic months.
I had picked a niche that had a busy season in the winter and a slow season in the summer. So traffic and income both had a gentle wave to it.
Mediavine recently changed their requirements to you must have 50,000 sessions in 30 days in order to apply. Looking back it would have taken just a few months extra month to make this change.
The other ad option is Monumetric – who takes applications at 10,000 pageviews. I don’t typically recommend Google Adsense as I never made a lot of money with them and not many people do.
For my affiliates I used Amazon. Their program is the easiest to use and for a hobby site it made sense to just stick with one easy to use platform that had everything I needed.
I won’t lie to you, there were things that I should have done differently when it came to this site. Especially when the virus had such a huge effect on advertising and distribution right around the time I was trying to sell the site.
What I Would Have Done Differently
I would have started selling my own printables a lot sooner. Bullet journal printables and products are actually pretty popular and the best ones are from people who actually do bullet journaling – like myself.
I would have focused more on building an enthusiastic community around the branding on the site. I pretty much just left all of my traffic growth up to Pinterest and Google. Starting a YouTube channel, using the Facebook group more frequently, staying regular on Instagram and in IG Stories, could have been a game changer in building a brand and revenue.
I also would have used Relay That to create Pinterest images at a much faster rate. This program has taken my Pinterest marketing to a whole new level and has saved me loads of time in Pinterest image creation.
I would have used better paying affiliates. Amazon is an easy affiliate to use with site stripe on their site. However, for a little extra effort I could have made a LOT more money doing affiliates with direct to manufacturer or with other crafting related sites.
Posting more often is another thing I would have done differently. This was a hobby blog from the start, but if I had wanted to build an entire brand I would have needed to post more tutorials and how to content. If I had the money to invest I probably would have hired writers to help with this.
I also would have spent time building a dedicated email list for this site as that would have helped me drive more traffic and made more money.
Deciding To Sell
Deciding to sell did not come easy for me. I had built this site from nothing, I enjoyed the time I spent on it, but the site was outgrowing what I could do for it.
The truth is the site needed more of my attention and I just didn’t have the time to give it more attention. My first love has always been MommyThrives and this is the site I want to grow as a brand and business.
I also have a child about to be homeschooled, a house that needs my loving care, and a husband that should get to see his wife not working.
My personal desires had a lot to do with why I decided to let my hobby blog go. While the buyers know that I’m happy to give them advice or help them, the truth is not having the weight of a small hobby blog on my shoulders is really nice.
Selling A Website
Selling a website is really not as easy as you think. My husband said it reminds him of selling a house – I have to take his word for it since I’ve never done that.
There are inspections, waiting periods, and all sorts of things that go into selling a site. I think the biggest most painful part is you can’t really stop doing everything you’ve been doing just because your site is up for sale.
You have to keep writing and keep marketing as you were, knowing full well you personally may not see the benefits from this extra work. At least not until the sale actually goes through.
You also have to do things like write a Standard Operating Procedures book that step by step shows everything you do for this site. Since my site was a small hobby blog my SOP wasn’t too huge, but I still had to write it.
You also have to make sure that your files are in order. All pictures you use on the website should be in folders and organized so you can quickly zip the folder and share it.
There are interviews, questions to be answered, screenshots to be shared. So for the first month you will want to make sure you carve out plenty of time each day to handle requests that come your way.
My first full year of blogging on my niche hobby blog I made $9,350. The first 6 months of this year I made an additional $5,860. I sold my hobby blog for $15,000.
I made $30,210 in 18 months on a hobby blog that I would spend between 5 and 10 hours a week on. That means I was making between $38 and $77 an hour for the time spent on this blog.
Would I Do It Again?
Right now, the answer is no. Financially, it makes sense to do this and just create niche sites you can sell in a bit of a rotation, but the truth is I have zero interest in doing this right now. I lack the passion or the drive on any one specific topic right now to do it.
Maybe once I get used to the new schedule that homeschooling is placing on me I can see doing this again. The truth is I just don’t want to spend time building a niche site just to turn around and sell it in 18 months again.
But I’m not you, and you aren’t me, so this might be something you should do.
Niche Website Selling Tips
If this interests you and you have topics you are interested in writing about there are a few things to consider.
First, while I recommend Digital Ocean for anyone looking to start an online business, for niche sites I actually recommend going with SiteGround. Since you will at most only have the site for a year or two it makes sense to use a hosting company like SiteGround where each niche site can have it’s own account.
This also makes it easier as you are transferring over the hosting from you to the buyer. You can simply give them access to the account and move on.
Second, pick a couple of different topics that are Pinterest popular. Create a timeline in which you will start the new niche sites. Start with one, build it up to auto-pilot, then hire out work while you start working on a second site and do the same thing.
By the time you are ready to sell the first site you will probably be starting your third or fourth niche site. This will keep a steady rotation of niche sites going so you can have income coming in and work on only selling one site at a time.
Hire writers for these sites. The fastest way to grow a niche site is to fill it with loads of content and if you are going to do this for a living, I recommend hiring writers to free up your time to focus on marketing.
Third, automate as much as you can when it comes to running each site. This will save you loads of time and effort and may make the whole process easier for you.
I highly recommend using Tailwind if you are in a Pinterest popular niche. The amount of time you will save in marketing is worth the price of the service.
Finally, from the beginning keep an accurate record of everything. From processes to partners, you want to make sure you have everything in an easy to share file for sale purposes.
Pick a great broker company to go through. I personally used Empire Flippers and would recommend them all day every single day for selling your website or even buying one.
Every single person I had contact with at Empire Flippers was knowledgeable, helpful, considerate, and really had the interests of both the buyer and me – as the seller – as their first priority.
Starting a niche site and selling it isn’t a fast way to make a good chunk of money, but it is a good way to do it if you have the patience. While making a living doing this might be time consuming, it’s a great way to get a good chunk of money into savings or make a bigger purchase later.
Just like with building an online business or blog, things take time. So if you have the patience, the drive, and the passion, this is a lucrative way to make money.
Do you think you will start a niche site to sell in a year and a half? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite side hustle and blogging boards.
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