Donovan Nagel Donovan Nagel

Niche Site Experiment And Earnings Update (Dec 2020)

  • Written by Donovan

I thought it’d be a good idea to write an update today on my niche site experiment.

The last update I wrote was in November 2019 and I meant to do this every 3 or 4 months but the year has been hectic.

I’ve learned so much in the past two years about acquiring and/or building niche sites (e.g. how to buy a site on Flippa) and also how to find quality expired domains, resurrect them and get them earning a side profit.

Most of all, it’s forced me to realize what’s worth my time and what isn’t (see my notes toward the end of this article).

Niche sites are expensive and time-consuming, and I would say 90% of the time, not really worth the pursuit as you’ll see.


So here’s a summary update of my properties (not including my big authority sites):

Original site list

Site 1: Alternative health niche

CMS: GatsbyJS

Amazon earnings so far: $37.68

Adsense: $14.74

This has been an utter slog and disappointment.

My very first micro-niche site in a focused area of alternative health. I was confident that this one would be a solid earner by now with an authoritative profile but it’s just fallen flat and never taken off.

In fact, of all the sites on this list, it’s the one I poured the most time and money into in terms of content, with almost no ROI.

My conclusion here is that the search volume just isn’t there, and there’s not enough buyer intent.

I’ll be selling this one soon to hopefully recover content costs.

Site 2: Medical niche

CMS: GatsbyJS (migrated from Wordpress and saw gains)

Amazon earnings: $163.32

Adsense: $434.82

Other affiliate programs: $420.15

Another hyper-focused health site of mine that I have barely updated with new content but still seems to rise.

It still gets a modest amount of traffic and costs me nothing to host so I’ll hang onto it. The site is quite authoritative with a strong backlink profile from other medical sites so no doubt worth a bit if I decide to sell.

With this one, the real problem is lack of quality affiliate options (only the one ClickBank product but it’s quite... dodgy).

Site 3: General info niche

CMS: GatsbyJS (migrated from Wordpress and saw gains)

Adsense: $109.74

Amazon: $0.87

This is the 10 year old “trivia” site I purchased last year. I actually advertised it on Flippa a while back and almost sold it.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

It’s starting to show some real potential with rising traffic lately.

The problem is, it can only really be monetized with ads as there are no high-earning affiliate products to sell in this space.

Costs me nothing to host so I’ll let it run with ads and make a couple of bucks a day. If nothing else, it buys me a cup of coffee. ☕

Site 4: Home and Gardens niche

CMS: Wordpress (migrated from an old PHP CMS)

Sold for ~$150 profit.

This was the old site I purchased that had an incredible backlink profile from major news sites.

I hung onto it for a long time, optimized hundreds of posts, and still saw very little movement. My conclusion was that site just needed a major content overhaul and I wasn’t prepared to spend time or money on it.

So I sold it for more than I paid.

Site 5: Parenthood niche

CMS: Wordpress

Amazon: $23.04

Sold for $250 profit.

A mom blog that I purchased with the original intention of letting my wife run.

In the end, we had no time for it. It showed promise though with a handful of Amazon sales but the products were so small that it just wasn’t worth my time (need to sell a hell of a lot of nipple cream to make good ROI!).

Got rid of it for more than I paid so I was happy.

Site 6: Language learning niche (general)

CMS: GatsbyJS (migrated from Wordpress and saw gains)

Adsense: $32.92

Amazon: $4.56

Other affiliate programs: $1,098.04

I already dominate this niche with my main authority site, but purchased this gem from a contact of mine (paid about $2000 for it).

I estimate that with other affiliate programs (not listed due to no tracking), I’ve already earned back well over my initial investment.

With some solid time and content investment, this one will be earning 5 figures a month by late 2021.

Site 7: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS (migrated from an old static site)

Other affiliate programs: $6,529.97

Other affiliate: $567.23

Amazon: $7.99

A 12 year old, language-specific blog that I paid $250 for.

And look what it’s generated already (with almost no work put into content).

This site will be a very high earner by late 2021 after I invest in its content.

Site 8: Food/Diet niche

CMS: GatsbyJS

Scrapped.

Didn’t have the interest, time or energy for this one so I eliminated it.

Site 9: Technology niche

CMS: GatsbyJS (converted from Jekyll)

Amazon: $98.28

Adsense: $15.16

YouTube: $449.47

My BSD project.

I’ve been unable to produce new content here for ages (sadly) but it still earns on its own.

I plan to spend a lot more time in 2021 working on this project (mainly YouTube).

Site 10: Alternative health product niche

CMS: GatsbyJS (migrated from Wordpress and saw gains)

Amazon: $16.38

This is a low-ticket item niche site that I plan to sell.

It’s just not worth my time or energy, selling inexpensive products from Amazon. Adsense won’t approve it (not even sure why).

It gets good traffic but the sales aren’t worth any more of my time.

Site 11: SEO/Blogging niche

CMS: GatsbyJS

Scrapped as well.

No point running another SEO/Blogging site when I already do that here.

More recent site acquisitions/builds

Site 12: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS (converted from ColdFusion)

Adsense: $49.61

This is a brand new acquisition and honestly one of my most exciting opportunities.

I purchased this ancient (nearly 20 years old) site from a family of translators who had built out a full course and were continuing to earn monthly revenue selling it (plus regular ads and affiliate sales).

I acquired it for next-to-nothing, moved it to GatsbyJS and I’m temporarily running ads on it while I get the course ready (it’s already made, just needs to be redesigned).

It’s a high-ranking authority site in a huge niche that I predict will earn several thousand a month in recurring revenue as soon as I have it ready.

Site 13: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS (converted from Wordpress)

Adsense: $472.13

Amazon: $46.17

This was a major competitor site that I acquired, redesigned and monetized.

The main purpose behind this one was to use it to advertise my own products and affiliate programs, so I actually don’t have specific numbers on earnings (but I know it’s already earned me many thousands in referrals).

I’ll be creating a separate info product for this site soon.

Site 14: General info site about children

CMS: GatsbyJS (converted from HTML)

Adsense: $32.85

A random Flippa purchase.

It’s just a general info blog about children with a good backlink profile and traffic.

I’ve started putting high CPC articles on it to get the ad revenue up.

Site 15: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS (Wayback recovery and conversion)

Adsense: $5.80

This and the 3 sites after it are all Wayback recoveries from expired domains.

I put an enormous amount of work into restoring these blogs, converting them to Gatsby and rewriting the content.

The traffic is gradually improving but I don’t expect to see much return on these until late next year.

Site 16: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS (Wayback recovery and conversion)

See above.

Site 17: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS (Wayback recovery and conversion)

See above.

Site 18: Language learning niche (specific)

CMS: GatsbyJS

Other affiliate programs: $150

This was another $250 purchase I made a while back but just haven’t taken it seriously.

It has good potential but the content requires a tonne of work to improve.

Site 19: Language learning niche (general)

CMS: GatsbyJS (Wordpress conversion)

Amazon: $28.87

This was a Flippa buy that I didn’t take seriously (it was a shit site with scraped content all over it).

I restored it, removed the crap and wrote some strong articles on it which are now ranking well.

Site 20: Travel niche

CMS: GatsbyJS (Wayback conversion)

This was a high-ranking site that expired and I’ve been in the process of restoring and rewriting it.

It’s doing quite well in a very specific niche (obscure country expat info).

I’ll probably resell this or put some ads on it and leave it.

Authority vs niche: Authority is king

Looking at the majority of the properties I’ve shared above, you can see that niche sites generally don’t make you wealthy.

You have to really invest heavily (time and money) to see massive gains.

But there have been some properties I’ve built or purchased that have been absolutely surprising and increased my monthly earnings with very little effort.

Collectively, these sites are a good side-earner for me (especially since I host for free on Netlify and have zero maintenance due to them being static).

But here’s what I’ve concluded:

I much rather focus on building authority sites.

They’re more enjoyable, require less grind and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue.

Niche sites get you sucked in to the competitive mindset trap where everyone scrambles for crumbs, instead of being creative and new.

So I’ll be selling off some of these assets in the months to come, letting the others sit and generate some beer money, but my main energy will go into working on the projects I truly care about.

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Donovan Nagel
Christian, husband, dad, entrepreneur, linguist, theologian and clown world survivalist.
"Put not your trust in princes, in mortal man, who cannot save."
- Psalm 146:3