I have written recently that niche marketing is one of the best ways to make money online. It is no get rich quick scheme but it does have the potential to earn a solid consistent income while offering the freedom to work when and where you want. Most niche marketers are secretive about their niches to avoid a tsunami of competition, however David Boyd from CreditCardCompare.com.au was happy to share some information about the niche business he has built over the last few years. This is a great example of what to expect with niche marketing and if you happen to live in Australia you might want to check out his site to compare all the top credit cards.
Please tell us a little about yourself?
My name is David Boyd and I live with my wife a couple of hours north of Sydney, Australia. For the past couple of years I’ve been running an Australian credit card comparison website, CreditCardCompare.com.au which is free to use and impartial from the banks.
Is this your primary income source?
Yes, the vast majority of revenues come from affiliate marketing.
What related business or technical experience do you have?
I’ve been involved in ecommerce and online marketing by extension for over 10 years. Up until recently I worked at large marketing agency based in Sydney where I helped market various brands in Google. However, most of what I know about online and niche marketing was born out of my prior work experience with promoting ecommerce stores.
How many niches do you focus on?
Just the one vertical, finance.
Did you start working at it full-time or did you ease into it while keeping a job?
We wanted to minimise the financial risk so we have been building up our website steadily. It has been hard work but having a sound financial footing has been worth it.
How long have you been doing the credit card niche?
Since late 2007 when we launched CreditCardCompare.com.au.
Isn’t that a very competitive area to focus on?
Yes, it’s a very competitive niche with more people entering the market looking to take a slice every month.
What do you do different or better then your competition?
I think the main thing that sets us apart from others in the same niche is strategy and a laser focus. We’re not in this for a quick buck, we’re planning for the long haul. The main benefit of this is that while we work hard, we work also work smart according to a long term plan (which has worked well for us so far).
Why did you choose credit cards?
Initially I was going to develop a credit card comparison site targeting Americans, but because of the ‘crapiness’ of the domain that never happened. Instead I decided to stay closer to home and build a website to help Australians compare cards.
Do you have a system for researching and evaluating niches?
In short, no. That’s not to say we didn’t research the market before getting in to it. We worked out how big the market was, how many applications there were per year in Australia, what the average pay out was, whether it was a growing market or not. So after speaking to people in the affiliate industry and reading a lot, we made the plunge and started to build a site.
Do you care to share any details on how much you are earning?
It makes enough for a full time income.
Most niche marketers are very secretive of their niches, aren’t you afraid of getting a lot of competition?
Whilst this is a niche, it’s still very mainstream and it would be fair to say that most marketers worth their salt know there’s money in money!
How many guest posts have you written for the credit card niche?
It’s hard to say. More than 40 and less than 100. We haven’t done many in the last few months, but that’s all about to change. (John’s Note: David contacted me to do a guest post. I asked him to do an interview instead.)
Does writing guest posts affect your search engine rankings and site traffic significantly?
That’s hard to say because there are so many on and off page variables. Whilst it is a good tactic, we’re not solely focused on using it to build rankings either. Guest posting is a great way to build your brand and engage with real people.
How many websites do you own and maintain related to the credit card niche?
We have one main site, CreditCardCompare.com.au. Other than that we have a couple of other sites that are currently operating just under the radar.
How many sites are linking to your credit card site?
According to the soon to vanish Yahoo! Site Explorer we have approximately 2,600 links, but obviously you can’t count all these as relevant. (John’s Note: The site ranks number four on Google for “australia credit card comparison”)
How many hours of work do you think it takes to fully set up and market a typical niche website?
It depends. If you want to go beyond a thin affiliate website then you have to put in a lot of time and effort, especially if you’re entering a hyper-competitive niche. It’s hard to put a specific number of hours on it, but it has taken us hundreds of hours to get to where we are and we aren’t even remotely finished.
Once it is fully set up does it become passive so that you can focus on other niches?
In our case, not really. We’re in a competitive niche so you can’t afford to rest on your laurels for very long. If you were working in a less competitive niche, then a truly passive income is much easier to achieve.
How much money can an average site earn?
Again, that really depends on the niche you choose to enter. If you would like to earn a passive income then it would be better to build a site in a less competitive niche where it’s easier to be the big fish in a smaller pond.
How much technical and marketing skills do you need to succeed at niche marketing?
I don’t think you need to be technical (ie. able to write code) because you can outsource all that, but having an understanding of the language and terminology used is definitely going to be beneficial. Being a savvy and timely marketer will make you much more money than being able to write code.
Can a relative novice get the skills in a reasonable time frame?
Yes, there are so many blogs, forums and books that anyone with the drive and right idea can get into niche marketing in a relatively short time frame.
Are their still many opportunities or are most of the niches over-run with competition?
Something like finance is ultra competitive where you are competing against not only other highly motivated affiliates, but also extremely well funded banks. Finance isn’t the only competitive niche though, in fact there aren’t many niches that don’t already have dominant players already in place.
There are definitely still opportunities. New products are launched (like the iPad) where, if you’re fast enough, you can set up a new site to cater to new users eager to learn more, engage with other users and buy accessories. So while the traditional verticals are definitely crowded, new niches open up all the time.
Do you think it is better to go deep into one niche or try to diversify over many different areas?
There are benefits to both. You can be a lot more focussed if you are operating a single site in a niche and grow to become the dominant player, but you can also lose everything overnight if the organic or PPC algorithm changes and hits you hard. On the other hand, a marketer who has successfully diversified out into other niches is much more protected: the algorithm may hit one site, but your other websites (and therefore revenue streams) are not affected. Diversification does pose a lot of challenges though, especially in terms of project management.
Given the amount of time you have put into niche marketing and the returns you are getting, would you do it all over again if you were starting now?
Definitely! It has been a very rewarding experience, even if it has been sketchy at times.