Niche sites review

I have mentioned my niche sites a lot on here but haven’t really given any details. Now that this avenue of work has been a success for me, I think it’s time to share more.

Firstly, if you are unsure what a niche site is, check out my article here.

My niche sites

I currently have four niche sites. They all are product focused and have a ton of links to Amazon. They each make between $200 – $2000 per month. You can see why I love them!

Two of the niche sites are about household products, one is about cooking and the other is about skiing gear. I wrote all of the content myself initially, but I have recently started outsourcing some articles. I feel like I have become an expert in all of those areas!

It isn’t hard to write the content yourself as long as you are willing to learn. It can be boring though.

Working out my topics

I had the ideas for my niche sites by using Google AdWords Keyword Planner. I looked for good strong buying keywords, like “best kitchen knives” or “blender reviews”, where the competition was not too high in the first page of Google search. I then wrote great guides to whatever it was the keywords were about.

Mistakes

The biggest mistake I made was making all my niches very small. If I found a great keyword, like the kitchen knife example above, then I made a site that was just about kitchen knives. With hindsight, I would have made the site about kitchen products in general so I had more space to grow.

It’s a lot of work to build a niche site and find links for them. It would have been far easier if I had had one big niche site rather than 4 little ones. On the upside, it is diversifying my income sources more though.

Should you build a niche site?

Yes! Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. It was just about getting started and working hard on it for the first month or two and then the income has been relatively passive. I highly recommend niche sites as a great income source. I am very happy that I took this approach.

My biggest tip is to get started today – stop thinking about it and just do it!

Selling websites

As I wrote in my 2016 review, I have been thinking about selling off part of my business – specifically selling one of my websites.

It’s a big decision. Do I lose the ongoing income of a website in return for a big pay out now?

Selling it is a risk, keeping it is a risk. Why is this?

If I sell it, I perhaps lose money if the site could have gone on earning money for years to come without me working on it.

If I keep it, I could end up making less money overall than if I did sell it. This is because I rely on Google traffic for that site to make money. If the traffic stops, then I no longer make money. I have so little time to work on all my sites that I feel like this is a reasonable risk.

There’s also the fact that I put a lot of effort into everything I do and a part of myself. Selling it is a difficult thing to get my head around as my sites kind of feel like my other children!! That sounds ridiculous I know, but it’s the truth.

I originally didn’t think it was even worth considering selling one of my sites because I didn’t think they would earn enough to be worthwhile. I then came across Empire Flippers which is raved about by many internet marketers online. They promise to sell sites for about 20 times the monthly income. That’s a lot of money and I am very tempted!

The other thing to consider is that I built up my niche sites fairly easily and there’s no reason to think that I couldn’t build more. This had me thinking that perhaps a good direction for me to go in would be to just build up niche sites with the express purpose of selling them. It could be a good option.

For now, I am unsure. Stay tuned to see what happens!

2016 in review

2016 was another great, but busy, year for us.

My husband started a new, more demanding job. I built some new websites which added a lot of extra work time for me. It was great to see this be a big success and bring in some extra income, but it has all been a bit much. In fact, I am thinking of selling off part of my business to free up some time. Some extra money would be nice too!

Part of why the extra work was a problem is that my middle child had some health problems. Things seem to be looking up now but it was quite scary for awhile there. She had a lot of illness and a lot of tests, including some hospital stays. It was very stressful for all of us and my youngest has also been acting out – I think because of all the attention that has been on our daughter.

They thankfully think they have worked out what is wrong now and she is on some medication which seems to be helping. I hope so. It’s also worrying me how much school she has missed.

My youngest has been quite tough. I am looking forward to when he starts school next year! It’s hard to imagine all that free time then!

In happier news, we did manage a lovely break in Mexico. I love it when we all get away together and have some proper family time. My husband wasn’t able to take as long off work as we would have liked so I spent some extra time with the kids alone. It’s nice having them grow older so that this becomes an option. I can’t imagine doing this with them when they were younger.

We also moved house which had it’s own stress attached but we absolutely love our new home and it’s only a block from the kids’ school which makes everything super easy.

This year has been so busy that I haven’t thought ahead to next year much. We are hoping to head all the way Down Under in the summer! None of us have ever been and we want to see the Outback, Barrier Reef and a kangaroo. The kids are very excited at the idea.

I hope to take some work pressure off by selling some of my business. Once my youngest starts school then I hope to grow the other parts some more.

Hopefully, 2017 is a much easier year than this one!

How to get links for your websites

As I said in my last update, I have decided to build a niche site. I always love the challenge of something new and the idea of a site that requires little maintenance but can bring me income forever is very appealing.

Link building for my niche site

I have built the website now and have started link building – this is what I have found most difficult! I basically found that there were three approaches I could take:

  1. Buy links. This would be the easiest but the most risky. The problem with buying links is that anyone you buy them from is also selling them to lots of other people so Google is more likely to work out that you are doing something sketchy and penalise your site.
  2. Build a Private Blog Network (PBN). A PBN is basically when you build a whole lot of sites with the express purpose of using them to link to your niche site. Usually people use expired domains for their PBN – that is, domains that people have already used in the past that already have links to them so that the links that they build to their niche sites are more powerful. This takes a fair bit of time and can be costly. However, it means that I would have total control over my links – what they say and where they point and how I use them.
  3. Guest post and other white hat approaches. My last alternative is to guest post on other websites. Basically, I write a great post for another site and they allow me to link to my site in the post. This is probably the best way to go about link building as it carries low risk of Google de-indexing my niche site. However, it takes time to build relationships so I can guest post and I don’t have much control over the links.

I have decided to stick with point 3 – guest posting. I have put a lot of effort into my site and I want it to last a long time! This seems like the safest approach so I want to stick to it.

I do have some advantages though as I already know a lot of bloggers and other people with sites so it will not take me long to get a list of opportunities.

Wish me luck!

Making money with niche sites

There’s a way of making money online that has caught my eye lately and that’s niche sites.

What is a niche site?

Basically, you make a website based on a product that people like to search for online. You write lots of reviews and comparison charts and basically have a site packed full of information about that product which can help other people make up their mind about which one to buy.

You then have lots of links on the site to those products on Amazon. People come to your site, read your reviews, click on a link to Amazon, buy the product and voila! You make a commission from Amazon.

How hard is it to build a niche site?

It is not hard. Anyone with a bit of WordPress knowledge could knock one up quickly particularly if they build it about a product they already know a lot about. The idea is to put a stack of information up in the beginning and then there is not much need to keep working on the site ongoing. Basically it is work upfront and then once it is all worked out, lovely passive income should keep coming in month after month, year after year.

So what’s the drawback?

The hard part is getting people to the site that are your target audience. That is, people who want to buy your product and will click on your Amazon links and make a purchase.

The most popular way to get this audience is to use SEO to gain readers from Google search. This is what I plan to do on a niche site I am going to build.

This is not that straight forward and it requires a good grasp of SEO. I am enjoying learning more about it.

The first thing I have to do is find a good product that lots of people search for and for which there isn’t a lot of sites already. I then have to look for lots of keywords which are the words people type in to Google when they are looking to learn more about the product in question. Then I have to write articles that use these keywords.

After this, I need to encourage other people to link to my niche site. Links from other sites on the internet are like a vote to that website and it helps them rank better in Google. This step will be the hardest. Thankfully, I have a good online network of people with websites so I am hoping they will help me out.

Next Steps

I love the idea of passive income from a niche site so I am going to give building one a go. My next step is to work out which product will be most profitable and then I will get researching and writing!

You can now read my guide to getting links.

2015 in review

It’s been a busy year for me – too busy really as I didn’t meet one of my New Years resolutions – growing this site!

I have been busy with my current online work and raising my three kids. It’s been a big year. 2016 will hopefully be a good year for this site though!

My second child started school this year which helped free up a lot of time. She was not happy at the beginning but, thankfully, she was happy after about a month.

It’s been nice to have special time with my youngest at home all alone, although sometimes I can find this makes things tougher as he needs a lot more attention from me with no one else to play with.

A big thing for us this year was a summer trip to Europe. We took all three kids and had a fabulous fortnight travelling around Italy. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona and I was surprised by just how much we all enjoyed it, including the kids. We are now looking forward to next summer to do it again – only we will go to France this time.

We bought a puppy after our trip. She is a lot of work – it’s like having another baby, but she has been a great addition to our family. The kids just love her and I even have them on a schedule of feeding her and helping to walk her. The novelty hasn’t died off yet and I am crossing my fingers that it doesn’t anytime soon.

In less happy news, my mom has been quite sick. She has been in and out of hospital with some problems. Things are looking up now and I am really hoping 2016 will be a better year for her.

All in all, however, 2015 was a good year and we are looking forward to all the crazy challenges to come in 2016!

How to work and parent on the move

hotel

One of the big advantages of being a work at home mom is being able to work on the move. There is no reason you have to live in the same place and can’t travel thanks to the location independence of working online.

Traveling plus working isn’t easy

As awesome as it may sound to be able to travel whenever you want, traveling plus working and parenting is not easy. It is quite tiring and takes a bit of forethought as to how to manage it all. To make it work, here are some tips:

1. Ensure there are plenty of rest days

If you need to work while traveling with kids, it’s important that you do not travel at a fast past. There needs to be plenty of “rest” days, not that these will be restful for you! If you are traveling every day, there will not be time to complete your work. I find that working in the evening when traveling, like I do at home, just does not work as well, as I am so tired by all the extra things we do on vacation. For this reason, I recommend spending a week at a time at a place, so there is no reason to rush around and plenty of opportunities to finish work.

2. Take the right equipment

When traveling with kids it is always important to take the right equipment, although this becomes even more important on a working vacation. It is essential you not only take all the work equipment that you need, but equipment for the kids as well.

For the kids, I ensure they have plenty of things to do.  This includes some prized toys, stationary, crayons and baby equipment. I especially recommend taking a good travel crib (you can read some reviews here)

3. Ensure there will be fast internet at your location

There is nothing worse when relying on internet for work than when there is no internet or it is very slow! I always ring ahead to accommodation providers and ask them about the availability, cost and speed of their internet. I also check out reviews on TripAdvisor to see what others say about the internet as often the accommodation provider is not truthful or just do not realise how bad their connection is for people who need to work online. Do not leave this to chance.

There is no reason why you can’t have a successful family vacation while working online as long as you take it slow, have great internet and take the right equipment. Hopefully, these tips will help you.

Working as a blogger

As I have said before, there are many different ways to earn money online. One way that particularly interests me is as a blogger.

What is a blogger?

A blogger is basically someone who writes a blog – like me with this blog. Of course, it is not so simple as just writing – there is so much more to it.

Successful bloggers generally only spend a small amount of their time writing.  They also need to market their content and deal with potential advertisers.

Most bloggers have social media accounts that they need to keep active. They might worry about SEO (search engine optimization) and networking with other bloggers doing things like guest posts to try to increase their audience.

It takes a lot of work to have a successful blog.

How do bloggers make money?

Bloggers make money in many different ways. Some make money from advertising and affiliates (basically linking to products on sites like Amazon and then taking a percentage of anything the reader buys). Others from writing reviews and promoting companies.

Others use their blog to advertise their services. For example, if you are a writer, a blog can be a great way to sell what you do to potential clients.

Why be a blogger?

I have wanted to be a blogger for a long time. I love the idea of sharing what I know to help others. Although, it takes a lot of time and at the beginning, at least, there is no financial reward.

I believe the key to success to being able to work full time online is having multiple income streams so that if something goes wrong with one, you still have money coming in from elsewhere. I would love blogging to be an extra stream for me, but I am struggling to find the time to make it work. Hopefully, I will get there some day.

You can also read my article about making money with niche sites.

Tech support scams

Scams target everyone, including people working from home (perhaps like yourself). We’ve discussed scams before, and how to avoid them. However, there’s an increasing amount of reports about a newer type of scam that targets people who are less technologically savvy. Having been targeted by a scammer trying to implement this type of scam I thought I’d spread the word.

What it’s about

Like most scams, they are after your money. The scammers will ring you up and claim to be from a support center – typically claiming to be from Microsoft’s support team. They will say there is a problem with your computer, a virus of some sort, that they have detected. Their aim is to get you to pay for “tech support” or get access to your computer, or both.

How it works.

Fraud.org has a great article giving the rundown on the scam, but I’ll give you a brief outline of how it played out for me.

It was early in the evening when I received a call from “Steve” claiming to work for Microsoft. He said that my copy of Windows operating system was telling Microsoft that my computer had several problems including viruses.

Steve then asked me to open the Event Log program. Not knowing where that was, he gave me directions to how to find this program in the Administration Tools. There was a series of messages there but nothing seemed serious or concerning. I told Steve that and at this point he became pushy and asked me to visit a website he said proved I had a virus.

I ended the call at that point.

If I had continued, the next step is ot be asked to download a program that will let the scammer connect to your computer, where they will claim to inspect your computer, and usually find more things wrong with it.

At this point they will ask for money – $100 or more – as a fee to “repair” your computer. Usually they will open a web page when you can enter your credit card details.

If you agree they will make it look like they are trying to fix your machine. If you refuse they will often threaten you with damage to your machine, such as deleting all your files. Either way they may install programs that will let them track what you do and try and steal information – such as bank account or email logins – from you.

Never give them access to your machine. The call itself is harmless.

Watch it happen

If you’re really keen to see what happens, the man in this video, Carey Holzman, records a call from a scammer like this, and gives the scammer access to a spare computer, taping what happens. It’s a long video (at more than an hour) but it is very interesting:

What to do if it happens to you

The easiest thing to do is hang up and ignore such calls. Legitimate companies will not contact you this way. If you want to see if the call is real or a scam then say you’ll ring back on a publicly listed number (like on a website) and ask for a name.

Never give access to your computer, and never provide any credit card details over the phone.

But what do you do if you’ve already dealt with a scammer? If you have given someone your credit card  then either cancel the card or try to reverse any charges (or both). And if you did allow a scammer access to your computer then get it looked at as soon as possible. It might cost money but it’s better than someone having long term access to your machine.

The right stuff: equipment you need

Whatever job you are doing, having the right tools make doing the job a lot easier. And working from home doesn’t change that fact. While money is tight when you start, and no one is paying your work related expenses any more, there is no excuse in not being properly set up for your new independent work  So make sure you have the right equipment for the work you are planning to do.

Computing Equipment

Most work from home will involve using a computer. Freelance work, like the type found on oDesk, will definitely need some form of computer.

While computers can cost a lot of money, there are decent cheaper options that will fill most people’s needs. The type of computer you need will depend on what type of work you are doing.

For most people I recommend buying a laptop or notebook computer. There is really very little that a laptop can’t do when compared to a traditional desktop computer. If you’re doing some heavy duty video editing or something where you need more than two monitors (like a day trader, for example) then you might need the additional graphical power of a desktop, which supports discrete graphics cards.

If you’re one of these people then you probably have a good idea about what you need, and how much it costs.

If you’re not someone with a specialist need yet still prefer the idea of a desktop over a laptop then you should look at spending $500 to $1000 to buy a desktop PC that comes with all the accessories you need. This will usually be a mouse, keyboard and monitor. Desktop computers are usually quite small these days (unless, again, you have high-end needs) and come with built in speakers.

As to where the best deals are, shopping online is hard to beat. In the past I have found Newegg to have good prices on computers (and extra things you might need.

Monitors: how much do you need

Desktops obviously need monitors, and generally come with them. However it can generally be a good idea to get larger monitors if possible, or have more than one monitor, to allow you to see and do more at once. This eliminates the need to constantly swap between windows using Alt+Tab, saving you time and making you more productive. When buying a computer (especially in store) see if they’ll upgrade your monitor – even if it costs you more it is money well spent.

A 27 inch monitor or two smaller monitors (like two 22 inch) will allow you to have more programs visible at once, or have things at a more comfortable resolution (like me) or both. I like two monitors: on one I have my email and maybe an IM program open for communication, and on the other I usually have a browser for internet tasks and Word or Excel windows.

Even if you have a laptop, you can still attach at least one monitor (sometimes two) to allow you to have multi-monitor capacity when you’re home at your desk.

Laptops

I recommend a laptop for most people for one reason: flexibility. You’re not tied to your desk, which is great for location independence. Travel a lot? You can take it with you. Want to work outside? Or on the beach? You can. And you don’t give up much in the process.

In terms of what to buy, like always it depends on your needs. While cheap netbooks and “Chromebooks” can be had for $300 or so these tend to be small, and are suitable for online tasks but nit much more.

For most people laptops that are 15 inch in size are the best option. These tend to be “entry level” machines that are still capable for a wide range of tasks. Such laptops from companies like HP or Dell start from $500.

For people who are on the move more often, or need more power, than not you might want to look at smaller laptops, like those that are around 13 inches. Many of these fall under the “ultrabook” tag, and tend to have more processing power and/or more battery life in a smaller size. Dell sell such laptops, but it is a competitive area, and companies like Toshiba and Apple, with their MacBook Air, tend to make good machines in this category as well. They do cost more, usually starting at $1000.

If you like the comfort of sitting down at a desk you can easy use your laptop there. Laptops usually have all the necessary ports to plug in monitors, USB mice and keyboards and whatever else you need. Smaller laptops will have fewer port, though.

Telecommunications

Finally, you’ll need to be connected, both at home at remotely.

For the home you’ll need a DSL or cable modem to connect to the internet. If you have a laptop or multiple devices (like iPads or cell phones) you might consider a wifi router as well, allowing all of the devices in your home to share the one connection. There are plenty of devices where the modem and the router are combined.

When you’re out and about you need your cell phone. Smart phones that can help you communicate and connect online are not cheap. If you can’t afford to pay for your phone up front then consider taking out a contract. It doesn’t matter if it is an iPhone or an Andriod, but look for ones that will connect to the newer and faster network types.

The best cell phone company differs based on the coverage in your local area, so look not only based on price but connectivity and coverage.