Today is the day.
Niche Site Duel 2.0 officially begins!
What is it?
How does it work?
What can we expect?
How can someone participate?
Great questions! Let’s get right into it…
What is a Niche Site Duel?
In late 2010, I was challenged by a friend to create a niche website from scratch to see if I could get it ranked in Google and start to earn an income from it. He started one too, and that’s when the Niche Site Duel was born.
Although I had built successful blogs before, I was not familiar with keyword research and I only knew very little about search engine optimization, which I soon realized would be the core to the niche site strategy.
Since it was something new to me, I thought it would be awesome to document the entire process from start to finish – so that’s what I did. From keyword research and selecting a niche all the way to building the website and monetizing it, I documented each and every step along the way, including all of the mistakes I made and things I wish I had done differently.
Using various strategies that I picked up from other experts and blogs, and putting in at least one hour of work a day on the case study, I was able to take my brand new site and climb to #1 in Google in 73 days. Since then, the site has generated over $50,000.00 in net profit.
The niche site duel has become one of the premier, free examples on the Internet about how to build a website from scratch and has already helped thousands of people start their own websites. Many of those people are now earning a side income, and a number of people have taken their websites full-time, which is awesome!
A lot has changed since 2010, as we all know, which is why I’m really excited about Niche Site Duel 2.0 (NSD2.0)…because we’re going to do it all over again.
How Does it Work?
Starting today, I’ll begin searching for a potential niche to serve. I’ll be using the criteria outlined in this post here to make my selection, which is based on a number of things including Google search volume, SEO competition, the Grandma test, earning potential, content potential, and “beastly resource” potential.
After finding this niche, I’ll then create a website to serve that space and begin publishing content on it. I’ll be using selective techniques that we’ve learned from the half dozen or so NSD2.0 research posts that were recently published to increase it’s ‘find-ability’ – its search engine rankings as well as awareness in the niche itself. Then, we’ll see what we can do to earn an income.
I will document the entire process right from the start, publishing detailed updates whenever I reach any key milestones or anything important happens that you need to know – good or bad.
My goal with NSD2.0 is to not only create a successful, long-term niche website that serves a particular audience, ranks high in Google and starts to earn an income, but the case study is also here to share as much as information as possible throughout the entire process so that you have something to use as a starting point and a guide for your own online journey. Whether you decide to follow along and participate in NSD2.0, wait until the case study reaches a point where you’re confident this is something you can (or want) do on your own, or even if you already have an established online business and are just looking for updated tips and strategies in the context of a site that’s actually using those techniques, this is definitely going to be fun and exciting – especially because who knows exactly what’s going to happen!
What Can We Expect?
Before we get into how you can participate in NSD2.0, I want to first talk about what we can expect from this case study.
I want you to remember that I’m not an expert at this stuff – that’s why I’m doing it. I never claimed to be awesome at SEO or even building websites. I am good at doing and learning as I go, and I happen to be good at sharing what I learn along the way too. This means that you’re not only going to get an over-the-shoulder look at what I do and what seems to be working, but you’re going to get an over-the-shoulder look at what is not.
I love to lead by example instead of just preach things I don’t even do. It’s called show and tell, not just tell
I will make some mistakes. I could even completely fall flat on my face. This is all part of the process. I don’t try to fail, but when I do I welcome it because that’s how I learn.
All this to say – expect it all. I don’t plan on hiding anything during this process.
As far as timing is concerned, building a successful website takes time. Patience and time.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Higher quality and care have higher priority than speed and quantity. That said, I’m not going to waste time either. You’ll get a good idea of the pace once things start moving, although depending on what stage we’re at, the frequency of updates will differ.
For example, we’re starting with the keyword research phase. In my experience coaching over 50 students in the past, keyword research can take some people several weeks before they land on a keyword that meets the criteria. This makes sense because it’s the most important phase, so it might take me a couple of weeks to find one that works, or I might get lucky and find one on the first day.
We’ll see, but the updates will come as things happen.
How Can You Participate?
For those of you looking to join the Niche Site Duel with me, I’m really excited because this time around, we’re taking things to the next level.
During the first Niche Site Duel, I simply asked people who were following along to send me an email with a link to a report on their own blogs about the niche site that they started. This worked okay for a while and there were about 100 people building niche sites of their own, but it was hard to gather any useful information from the group of participants as a whole, and as useful as all of their reports were, it was a lot of content to read, people didn’t always update and when they did, some forgot to send me their links. It was just a mess.
This time, we’re systematizing how people participate.
Before anything (and this is important), if you choose to participate, you also need to consciously commit to what you’re about to do. This isn’t something that you can just say you’re going to join and then you’ll magically find a keyword and a website will appear out of nowhere. This stuff takes work. It takes time and most importantly, commitment.
As much as I’ll be here as a guide doing this along side you, this isn’t going to be easy. You’re going to meet roadblocks and encounter several hurdles along the way, but if you’re committed to learning, figuring things out and making this work – then you’re ahead of most people already. Plus there’s the power of the group working in your favor – you’re not going to be the only one going through all of those roadblocks.
Commit now, or forever hold your peace.
Okay. If you’re committed and you’re doing this, this is how it’s going to work:
If you’re interested in joining me in for Niche Site Duel 2.0, you need to sign up to the Niche Site Duel email list below. This isn’t a list that’s being built to market stuff to you, this is simply here so that I can directly contact each of you who are participating, and send you important participant updates as they come along. You don’t need your keyword or target niche yet . If you want to get started, sign up below, but I recommend that you keep reading first just so you know what’s up.
Think of signing up below as a pledge to committing to this process:
Editor’s Note: Niche Site Duel 2.0 is over. Thanks to everyone who participated!
After you sign up, you will get a detailed email from me about how you can participate and then you can begin the keyword research process.
In a couple of weeks, you’ll get another email from me with a special link to a site that is being developed right now where we’re going to house the niche site duel and list all of the participants. More information on that coming soon, but it’s going to be awesome! We’ll be able to keep track of a bunch of things and almost create a leaderboard type of thing with it – really “gamifying” the process to make it fun, interesting and it’ll help keep people motivated and hold them accountable.
The immediate followup email will also include information about how to apply to be one of the 5 people who I will choose to work with directly throughout this entire process in a Mastermind Learning Group (MLG). I call it this because we’ll meet at least a couple of times per month (probably more – we’ll see) via GoToMeeting or a Google Hangout, and not only will I be there to coach and guide, but I’m in this with you too. We’re all going to learn at the same time, help each other out and hold each other accountable.
What’s really cool about this group is that we’re going to use the MLG niche sites as detailed case studies for NSD2.0 too, ones that we can track and highlight over time and watch the progression on and learn from. Instead of learning from just my example, we’ll have 5 others examples to learn from as well.
Now, there is worry about the fact that these MLG members will be sharing too much information – enough where it could potentially either work too much in their favor, or too much against them and skew the results either way.
Unlike myself who will assume that risk (and I’ll talk more about that in the last section of this post), I’m going to keep the 5 MLG members and their target keywords and URLs hidden throughout the entire process until they get to a point where it makes sense to share that information if they choose to do so. We’ll address each of the members using interesting little pen names so we can remember and keep track of their progress, and we’ll share all of their keyword data (searches, CPC, SEO competition numbers, etc.) eventual rankings, traffic numbers and the general category that they’re in (health, fitness, education, etc.), but the exact keywords and website urls will remain hidden at first. I think this works in everyone’s favor, especially since this case study seems to be on everyone’s eyes right now.
So that’s how the MLG works. In the email you get after signing up to participate, if you want to be a part of the MLG, there will be an application process – a set of 5 questions that I’d like for you to answer.
You can simply reply to the email when you’re ready.
The first question is: what is your target keyword is and why did you choose it?
So, this means that before you can apply for the MLG, you must first find your target keyword. This will help me form a group that covers a wide range of niches, and of course it makes sure that the people who do apply are the ones who are more likely to follow through.
The other 4 questions will help me learn more about you.
“But Pat, you’re making us do all of this keyword research and you want us to send you our target keywords, and that doesn’t guarantee we’ll be selected? You’ll have hundreds of potential keywords to choose from for your own stuff, or to sell! You snake!”
If you’re worried about me taking your keywords and either building my own sites from them or selling that list off, then don’t send me your target keyword! I’m not the kind of person to do something like that, and just think of what doing that would do to my entire brand and what it stands for. The trust I’ve earned from you means much more than any list of keywords or amount of money.
And don’t forget, you can easily participate from the sidelines without sending me anything!
Now – when I conduct keyword research myself the next couple of weeks, there is definitely a chance that I may select a niche that someone else has selected. This can happen very easily. When I did this before, I think I saw 3 or 4 websites in the firefighter niche go up all using HQ in their domain names. I’m not going to look at anyone’s application until I find my own target keyword, and I’ll probably go for something a little ambitious anyway.
I’ll announce my niche (once I find it!) and then look over the applications – if by chance I happen to select the exact same keyword as someone else, then well take it from there. I hope to find several different potential keywords on my own so I may have a bag to choose from – we’ll see.
Remember, I haven’t even started yet. So that’s how all of this is going to work. If you’re interested in joining the duel:
- Enter your name and email in the opt-in box on this page.
- You’ll get an email with all the details about how you can participate.
- Start your keyword research and find one that meets your specific criteria. Here is mine.
- In about 2 weeks you’ll get an email from me with info on how to put yourself onto the NSD2.0 leaderboard.
- If you’re interested in the Mastermind Learning Group, once you find your keyword (even before the leaderboard stuff is ready) reply to the questions in the initial email that was sent to you.
There will be no deadline to sign up for the NSD2.0 leaderboard. That will be ongoing, at least for a while. The leaderboard will be for sites created in and around the NSD2.0 timeframe – we don’t want people to enter data for websites that have been up for a long time already. There will be a way to login and add data later too in case you join after you discover a keyword but have yet to select a URL. I know this all sounds kind of new, kooky and strange right now, but the “Duel Master” system is still being crafted as we speak and it’ll all make sense once it’s ready for you.
There is, however, a deadline to apply for MLG, which is June 9th, 11:59:59 PM PST – any answers to the application questions submitted on June 9th (12:00:00 am PST) and forward will not be considered for the MLG. This gives everyone, including myself, plenty of time to discover a niche site opportunity while keeping things moving forward. I will select and email the 5 MLG participants by end of day Monday, June 10th. I’ll announce the participants (using their fun pen names) and their niche site keyword data (not the actual keyword) later that week, so we can all begin to remember what niches they’re in and start to keep track of things.
Okay, one last thought…
Concerns from Niche Site Duel 1.0
One of the major concerns coming from NSD1.0 is that because I revealed the niche and the exact URL, that obviously led to a lot of external things that wouldn’t have happened to the site if I didn’t reveal it. Many said that the strategies wouldn’t have worked under normal circumstances because people don’t normally have a platform this big to share the progress of a new website on.
That is a fair comment, but there are a few things to consider.
Hundreds of people who did not have a platform did see results from following the experiment and the same strategies. Many have created new income streams for themselves – some large, some small. Some people even had enough success and momentum to quit their jobs and go full time with their new sites, which is awesome.
I never linked to the site from SPI before I got to #1 in Google, and most other people didn’t either. A quick PR5 link coming from SPI would have helped immensely, but I wanted things to be as natural as possible. That’s definitely hard to come by considering how public the case study was. A lot of people did cover the initial Niche Site Duel and linked to the niche site, but mostly after I got to #1 in Google, since that was finally something worth writing about.
The thing is, it’s so helpful to see exactly how I chose the keyword and niche, how I decided to write the content and structure the site and then finally monetize it.
It’s like with Texas Hold’em poker on television – it only blew up and got interesting once all of us could finally see the exact cards each player holds, even before they were played or flipped over. I feel like if I hid the keyword and url from you, it would take away from the realness and excitement of this case study.
Having the 5 unrevealed MLG case studies to go along with my revealed site will definitely help. I can also ask you to please not link to my site and instead link to the niche site duel hub, but I know people will still link to it.
I could hide the keyword and URL until some movement has been made in Google – but then again everything that happens before SEO and monetization would be weird. Blurred out keyword research and content creation videos would be tough to make, and not very useful.
Then there’s the idea of doing two sites at the same time: one all out there, and one hidden until I get to a top spot in Google – but I’m not sure that would solve the issue either. I’d split my attention between the two and the overall effectiveness of each the sites would go down. I shouldn’t do two when I just published a podcast episode specifically for NSD participants about doing one niche site at a time. 😉
This is why I love the SPI community – you all have such great ideas and much of what I’ve already done on SPI comes directly from suggestions from you, so while we start NSD2.0 and our keyword research together, I think this would be a good opportunity for us to discuss different ways to keep this experiment interesting, but also pure at the same time. I’m not even sure it’s possible, but we can work toward that I think and do our best.
Anyway, I hope you’re as excited as I am about this. I’m off to rest and get well (I’m still sick as I write this post…) and then get ready for some hardcore keyword research in the next few days.
I’m in. Are you?
Editor’s Note: Niche Site Duel 2.0 is over. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Sign up in the box above if you’re ready to get started!
Cheers, and all the best!