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ShoutmeLoud Case Study – Blogging Niche Site Makes $50,000+ Per Mo

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If you’re here, it’s likely, you’re interested in starting a blog. You might also be interested in the make money online niche, and you want to know if it’s possible for you to be successful, and if so, how. In this post, I’ll be sharing a long-standing success story from ShoutmeLoud, a front-running site in the blogging niche for the last 10 years. I’m hoping this success story can help you to see what’s possible and actionable strategies to make it happen.

Is the Make Money Online Niche Too Competitive?

Often times, we hear comments like:

  • “The Make money online niche is too saturated”
  • “Newbies shouldn’t start in the make money online niche”
  • “You have to have income proof in the make money online niche”
  • Or, “You have to mix niches to make money in the make money online niche”

You might see examples where the sites never took off, where site owners complain because they haven’t been successful, where mentors complain because they see so many site owners quitting, or on sites like Pinterest where you can’t tell what niche the site is really in! Hahahaha.

There is a lot of mixed messages within the make money online niche, so it can be tough terrains to navigate. Fortunately, there are sites like ShoutmeLoud that help to give some perspective on what is really required to be successful in this niche, or in others.

What is the Make Money Online Niche?

The Make Money Online niche is a big umbrella that basically encompasses any site that talks about making money on the internet–this could include:

  • Reviewing online business opportunities
  • Discussing how to start blogs
  • Talking about WordPress or offering WordPress tutorials
  • Email Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Completing surveys for money
  • Website hosting articles or reviews
  • And Much more

There are several sub-niches that can fall under the “make money online niche”

Other Names for the “Make Money Online Niche”

In most formal settings, they don’t refer to a niche as “make money online” For example, when you create an account on social media or sign up for an affiliate network, there’s no place in the application to say “make money online niche website”. Instead, the Make Money Online niche is also categorized as:

This Site Has Beat the Odds

Recently, I was reading an article on Niche Pursuits by Spencer Haws where he interviewed Harsh Agrawal, and I thought it was really interesting because ShoutmeLoud is a make money online niche website that:

  • Was the first site started by it’s founder
  • Generates $50,000+ per month
  • Has over 1 million pageviews
  • And, has been successful for more than 10 years

I wanted to share some key takeaways with you about how to start a website in the make money online niche and make it a success.

Disclaimer: The results of this site are not typical results. In fact, most people entering the MMO niche say it’s very difficult and give up. They come face-first into some of the objections I mention in this post, and they decide to turn away altogether. This post isn’t meant to underestimate the difficulty of being a success in the make money online niche (or any other niche). It takes hard work in any niche. It’s simply meant to show you that it’s possible if this niche is your passion, and you commit to it.

What’s Common with Make Money Online Niche Examples

It’s common to see bad make money online niche examples. They often have a lot of hype and sell products or services that drastically under-deliver.

Many times you’ll see sites that share income that’s been photo shopped or testimonials that have been done by freelancers who have been paid (even without trying the product or service).

If it’s a legitimate site, it’s common to see sites that:

  • Have bad user experience (like excessive pop-ups or low quality content)
  • Don’t get updates often
  • That don’t thoroughly understand the topic
  • Or, that mix make money online content with other niches

While all these things aren’t bad–like it’s not bad to address more than one niche on a site if you’re reaching your financial goals–ShoutmeLoud demonstrates that these methods of operating in the make money online niche aren’t absolutely necessary.

Who is Harsh Agrawal?

Harsh Agrawal was born and raised in India, and is the founder of ShoutmeLoud. He says he had just graduated college at 22 years old when he started dabbling into blogging. He majored in Engineering, but found himself working at call centers that he didn’t really want to work in for long.

As a hobby, he started a blog, but he didn’t realize it could make money. He made his first $1 online by helping a website owner who was stuck trying to fix issues he was having in Google. Agrawal offered to help, and the gentlemen wanted to pay for his effort, so once he completed the job, to Agrawal’s surprise, he was paid via Paypal for the service.

The first sale inspired him to make money online and he continued finding ways to ramp up his online revenue from there.

How did He Get into Blogging?

Agrawal says he’s really passionate about technology, so he’d try things, and share how it went as a passion. He didn’t realize he could make money doing what he was passionate about until after earning his 1st dollar online.

After getting paid via Paypal for his service, it opened his mind to many more possibilities considering he could be paid by people anywhere in the world! He learned about Google Adsense, Affiliate marketing, and more and more ways to earn an income, and revenue went up from there.

ShoutmeLoud – 10 Years of Blogging Income Reports

ShoutmeLoud has 10 years of blogging income reports where they Agrawal shares things that worked, things that didn’t work, and his learning lessons. He grew the business from a hobby blog with no intention of making money up to a $50,000 per month business, and he explains many of his learning lessons in his income reports.

Tips that The Founder Says Made ShoutmeLoud a Success

Thru the income reports, observing the website, and listening to interviews he’s done, I’ve come up with a series of tips from Harsh Agrawal that contributed to his blogging success.

1. Being willing to take the Risk of Choosing an “Nontraditional” Career

2. He Wasn’t Intimidated by Starting in a Niche He Hadn’t Had Success in Yet

3. Focusing on What’s best for the End User (even at the Price of Higher Commissions)

Agrawal mentioned how there have been many products for sale over the course of his blogging career, and many of the products are relevant to his niche. He chose not to focus on promoting products solely based on his commission, but instead, to focus on products that will satisfy his visitors most. He attributes his choice for being a big reason why his visitors trust him, and are willing to buy from him.

4. Transparency

Agrawal shares income reports and he also hosts a forum where people can get their questions answered about blogging. The forum is free to join, and for years, he’d answer questions himself. He says by sharing his experiments, his results, and being transparent about what he knows and what he doesn’t, he’s built respect and trust from his visitors.

5. Diversifying Income Streams

In reading his income reports, I was able to see that he experienced several times where Google made updates, trends collapsed, and products that were market leaders, were no longer relevant. With changes can also come a total collapse in income if there’s no diversification.

While a major traffic drop can be frustrating, if you diversify income streams and traffic sources, it’s easier to weather situations like that.

6. Keeping overhead Low enough to Bear Market Shifts

In addition to diversifying, Ashgrawal says he believes in minimalism. He kept his car until it didn’t satisfy his needs 7 years later, and overall, he’s demonstrated very lean habits in business and personal life.

As a result, when revenue drops or traffic drops, he still knows he has more than enough to take care of personal expenses and business expenses.

7. Being Willing to Learn New Technology as Innovation Continues

Ashgrawal mentions how he started ShoutmeLoud on Blogspot, and how Digg was a big traffic referral site when he was earlier in his blogging career, but he acknowledges that they’re not longer as substantial as they were. Many bloggers fail to recognize shifts: when one technology is no longer staying current and when another has replaced it.

Ashgrawal seems to have stayed attentive enough that he could pivot–from one strategy to the next– as technology and the market required it.

8. Stay True to the Niche by Focusing on Mastery – Quality over Quantity

You’ll find many bloggers who have content that would fall into the make money online niche, but they also diversify their content in topics that might seem completely irrelevant. For example, you can find home decor bloggers, health and fitness bloggers, or mom bloggers who sell blogging education. As a result, you might think, the make money online niche can’t stand alone.

I know I’ve thought this before.

Ashgrawal proves that there is enough interest and queries to answer about making money online that you don’t need to go into other topics to be successful. Instead of diversifying with niches, he’s focused on being the master of subniches within the make money online space. His site focuses on creating high-quality content written by experts on:

  • WordPress
  • WordPress plugins
  • WordPress themes
  • Blogging
  • Blogging tutorials
  • WordPress security
  • Hosting
  • and, Reviews

4. Creating Process, Systems, and Routines

He created templates so that eBooks, eCourses, and blog posts can consistently deliver on the expectations of his readers. He says he has team meetings with his team of 4 and they make sure to maintain continuity between how things are done within the business.

5. Using the Right Tools

Ashgrawal mentions that he started his blog on Blogspot, but within 4 months of blogging, he realized Blogspot wouldn’t satisfy all the demands he had. As a result, he switched his website over to WordPress.

He also uses tools like Trello to maintain his editorial calendar, Kinsta for hosting, and push notifications to keep users returning. I’m sure there are other tools he uses, but overall, it’s important to choose tools that will help you successfully achieve your goals (even if they’re different than others are using).

6. Putting a Large Emphasis on SEO (above other Traffic Sources)

The traffic on ShoutmeLoud has been reported at 1 million+ pageviews per month from 800,000+ users, and more than 80% of all of the website visitors come from the search engines. Social media traffic is significantly less of a traffic source for ShoutmeLoud, and this is intentional.

They’ve done considerably less promotion on social media than thru search engines because of the high-value of search traffic versus social media traffic. Aside from ShoutmeLoud, many website owners say search traffic is much more targeted and can be “qualified” as being in the latter phases of the buying cycle based on the keywords they enter.

Validating the Demand from Search Users before Creating Content

As a large part of the ShoutmeLoud SEO focus, they make sure to validate keywords before creating content. They use tools like AHRefs to see the search volume of keywords, to see the competitiveness of keywords, and to decide what to write versus what not to write.

Avoid Cannibalization

Many bigger blogs run into the issue of cannibalization because they cover a topic more than once. For example, as a blogging niche site, it’s likely that Ashgrawal might cover how to start a blog more than once on his website–this can lead to search engines being confused about which post to rank for your keyword which is often called “keyword cannibalization”.

Ashgrawal mentioned he’d run into keyword cannibalization, and noticed it significantly limited the amount of traffic that would come into his website until he solved the problem. As a result, he said he periodically goes thru his website to find cannibalization issues, choose a different keyword or redirect the post to them best option, and he’s seen his site traffic increase drastically from that.

Intentional Making sure to Internal Link

Aside from cannibalization, Ashgrawal also mentions that he makes sure to go thru his website to get rid of “orphaned posts”. Internal linking is a key ranking metric for getting search engine traffic. When site visitors can visit your website and you offer other relevant content, it increases the chances of them staying around on your website.

The longer they stay, the longer the time on page, the more page views, the more engagement, and Google typically rewards better user experience with more traffic. Ashgrawal mentioned he’d been doing a manual process to ensure he had internal links in his posts, and had recently come across Link Whisper which was working well to automate it more.

12. Staying Very Involved in the Business Growth (including day-to-day Operations)

Many bloggers look forward to the time when they can hire and hand off the responsibilities it takes to build their blogging business, but with Ashgrawal, he’s stayed very involved in the day to day activities. He still writes 70% or more of the content, and has created more than 1000 posts over the last 10 years! In comparison to many businesses with similar revenue, he keeps his team very lean–only 4 employees and per project contractors from time to time.

7. Not Letting work and Life get Too Off Balance

In business or professional life, it’s common to see people who monopolize their time with work or family, and it’s tough to make sure the needs of a business and a family are met. Ashgrawal says he’s realized that when his partner is unhappy, he’s not as happy, so he tries to make sure they have a date night regularly.

8. Meditating and Staying Mindful

As online entrepreneurs, it’s possible to take your work with you wherever you go–this sounds convenient, but it can also turn into a problem. People who work online often say they struggle with being present, putting devices down, or being “in the moment”. To combat the pull away from being present, Ashgrawal advocates for meditation.

He says he meditates consistently, and even goes to a retreat annually where he can’t have his devices, and he simply meditates for 10 days straight.

How to Start a Blog in the Make Money Online Niche – Step-by-Step

If you want to start a blog in the make money online niche, it’s not too saturated, you don’t need to have lots of income proof, and there is a demand online for people who want to learn alternative ways of making money. You can learn how to start a Make Money Online Niche blog by following my tutorial on How to Start a Personal Finance Blog.

Make Money online tends to fall within the Personal finance niche in many instances, so the steps it would take to build and thrive with that are the same steps you’d take for a MMO niche site. You can see step-by-step directions for how to build a MMO/personal finance site here.

Conclusion

Shoutmeloud is a great inspiration for new bloggers and established bloggers (especially those in the make money online niche). If you’ve been on the fence about starting a blog, hopefully, this case study helps you to make your decision. If you’re ready to start your blog, get started with a free website and training.

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