#4: The Strategy I Use for My Niche Site Project, Inspired by Viral Nova

niche-ideasThe niche ideas you’ll receive in this series are created to inspire you with design, marketing and niche-angle ideas for current or future projects. You are not expected to follow these guidelines and recommendations exactly. Use them as a base foundation to build upon.

The ideas presented in this series purposefully contain no social share buttons. I won’t share these ideas outside of this email list and recommend you don’t either. My goal with this series is not to help you learn, but to make sure you earn.

Today you will learn:

  • Why two huge brands with more than 500,000 Facebook fans often get less than 100 likes per status
  • Why I wouldn’t start a Viral Nova competitor, but would learn from their success
  • The exact strategy I’m taking with my new niche site project

Just over a year ago I wrote a blog post titled, “How to reach 100 million unique visitors in just six months”. The article was about a site called Viral Nova that had whipped up a mini press-storm after the owner of the site, Scott de Long, said it was on track to pull in $400,000 that month; just a few months after launch.

Following my post which covered the site and its competitors in a lot of detail, thousands of these websites popped up, seemingly overnight. While many were abandoned as quickly as they were started, some people did have success.

In my follow-up blog post on ViperChill, which updated readers about the industry and the most prominent sites almost in a “where are they now” fashion, I also highlighted success stories from some ViperChill readers.

Harold Paris started a French-focused viral site after reading my article and showed me his stats of reaching 4 million pageviews in May, just a month after launching the site.

Azzam Sheikh started a viral news site with a political and religious angle which received over 500,000 visitors in just 3 days.

It’s of course no secret that because these sites are primarily reliant on Facebook traffic, just one slight change to the news feed algorithm could have a damning effect on their results. Facebook could literally wipe out their business model on a whim.

It has been 10 months now since that second post and it feels right to do another. After all, I have used the heart of these viral sites to grow one of the biggest brands in my industry in just the past few months.

In that first post I said that if you’re going to start one of these viral sites, do it now.

In the second post I said the train is leaving the station, but there are still a few opportunities to have success with the angle.

Now I’m saying I really wouldn’t start one of these sites today in the Viral Nova style as you know it, but I would do something similar: Create a niche specific version of what makes these websites so successful.

That means instead of running a general “clickbait” blog which covers ‘you wouldn’t believe what happened next!’ type stories, just focus on one industry. If I were a baseball fan, that might mean having a site whose content is geared towards topics like, “Watch this amazing play from x baseball player which looks exactly like the play he did last year”. (This story did actually go viral recently).

While you can make this headline very “baity”, it does not look deceptive to baseball fans or even sports fans for that matter. The general stories are the ones that tend to get the bad rep, not those focused on a specific industry.

One of the main reasons I love this “niching down” is you can decrease the cost at which you attract your initial audience.

If you’re running a general viral-site you’re usually targeting general people.

In a niche specific site, which runs on some ‘viral elements’, you can really narrow down your ad-targeting focus and get much cheaper click costs and fans because of it.

More on that later.

For now, I want to show a few examples of what I’m talking about. Let’s start with a giant.

The Rise of a Niched Megabrand Example #1: I F*cking Love Science

Probably the biggest example I can think of from a site that combines viral content and informative articles specific to one topic is “I F*cking Love Science”. The page currently has more than 19 million fans on Facebook and their growth shows no signs of slowing down.

Of course, just because they brand themselves as a science-focused page, it doesn’t mean they’re not cashing in on a viral-style news. A post they shared just 9 days ago has over 1.2 million likes and 275,000 shares. The update? A picture of a baby rabbit with the caption, ‘Baby rabbits look like old Kung-Fu masters’.

Here are some other popular articles from the site which have done really well on Facebook:

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Vaginas / 406,690 Facebook shares
  • Automatic Sperm Extractor Introduced Into a Chinese Hospital / 383,517 Facebook shares
  • Meet the Owl With Eyes Like the Night Sky / 370,547 Facebook shares

No doubt each of these sent far more website visitors than the number of shares they received, so that’s a sh*t-ton of traffic (had to get the * in there) they’re able to monetise.

Like most sites getting a lot of traffic from Facebook they generate a portion of their revenue via Taboola Ads which try to tempt people to click on other viral style news.

What they do a bit differently is actually having a focus on collecting email subscribers. If you’ve been interested in internet marketing for more than a few weeks you’ll already know how powerful having an email subscriber is. If you haven’t, then let’s just say I would rather have an email subscriber than any other form of traffic heading to a sales page.

When you niche down, you can make your lead magnet (the thing that entices people to give you their email address) much more focused towards your industry which will increase your conversion rate.

They’ve also created an ‘I Love Science’ online store where they are trying to cash in on geeky mechandise such as T-shirts which say, “COME TO THE NERD SIDE, WE HAVE π” and “Talk nerdy to me”. People have been making a killing from Facebook t-shirt sales (most notably via Teespring) so I have a feeling they’re doing very well with this.

While there is obviously a huge part of their audience that wouldn’t be interested in actual scientific documents and going through research papers, they have certainly managed to build an audience of people which is at least partly veered towards a specific subject, rather than anyone and everyone.

SimilarWeb shows that their traffic is dropping – but still at 50 million visitors per month – yet Compete.com predicts that at least their US audience is growing month by month. It’s hard to know without having private access to the analytics, but at least for now, the numbers are very good.

The creator of the site, British female Elisa Andrew, even signed a deal with the Discovery Channel to have them air a segment about the content her page shares on their network. I don’t have any income figures for the site but when it’s generating as many pageviews as this one is she likely has very few financial worries.

The Rise of a Niched Megabrand Example #2: CarBuzz

You can see from the screenshot above that this is a page I’ve liked. Why? I like cars. I don’t know a ton about them and could pretty much only change a tyre if something went wrong, but I do enjoy seeing the new models from companies like Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.

Here’s something a little odd, yet totally normal: besides the similar CarThrottle, I don’t subscribe to any other car-related pages. Autoblog have far more informative content on actual car specifics but the angle of the content they share is just…boring. Jalopnik have a far bigger brand and post far more articles each day but by and large, they too are boring.

These two pages have 380,000 and 233,000 likes respectively. Yet, Autoblog’s latest Facebook update – from 4 hours ago – has just 42 likes. Jalopnik’s, from 10 hours ago, has just 29 likes.

It certainly doesn’t help that they’re posting articles with headlines like, “Weekly Recap: Ford GT inspires guitar, foosball table, sailboat”. Really, you expect people to click on that?

Compare that with the headlines CarBuzz are posting along with their articles:

  • The Mercedes 2025 Concept Truck is an Awesome Robotruck / 37,575 Facebook shares
  • How Much is Ferrari Really Worth? / 37,847 Facebook shares
  • Ford Racing Reveals Mustang GT King Cobra / 47,680 Facebook shares

Notice how only one of those three can really be classed as car news. They’ve found a cool car that people find interesting and they’ve done the research into a brand that people would like to know more about.

I don’t know anything about the guys behind CarBuzz but they clearly know how to get petrolheads interested in the stories they have to share. I do know that CarBuzz.co.uk was around long before CarBuzz.com, but the success of the .com site led the founders of the co.uk site to rebrand to carwow and change their entire business model.

The Rise of a Niched Megabrand Example #3: The Art of Manliness

If you’ve been interested in reading marketing blogs for the last few years then you’ve probably came across people highlighting the success of The Art of Manliness. Their blog was one of the top 100 in the world at one point – based on how many people were talking about it – well before social media became mainstream.

Unlike some blogs which graced the Technorati.com homepage and disappeared, The Art of Manliness have managed to take their unique niche focus and transfer the appeal over to Facebook as well.

Here’s a sampling of their content that received a lot of love on the social network:

  • How to Use Your Baby as a Piece of Exercise Equipment: An Illustrated Guide / 58,023 Facebook shares
  • Gird Up Your Loins: An Illustrated Guide / 139,415 Facebook shares
  • How to Undo the Damage of Sitting / 84,412 Facebook shares

This content is clearly relevant to the niche they’re operating in but also hugely attractive to an audience like Facebook. The “Gird Up Your Loins” example was a graphic-based post that certainly caught people’s attention when browsing their newsfeed.

How I Use This in My Own Website Project

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll have read over the last few weeks about my new niche site case study website.

It’s just a few months old yet I’m already reaching 800,000 to 1,200,000 people per week in my Facebook updates and I have traffic days which reach tens of thousands of visitors.

(I will probably reveal the site at one point – it’s not a big secret – but my major goals for the project have yet to be reached).

If I post a status this second I have no doubt it would be on 1,000+ likes by the time you get to the bottom of this article. I average at least 4,000 likes per status, most of which happen in the first two hours.

While it may sound like I’m just running some very general viral site, I’m not.

First of all, I’m not targeting American or English audiences. I’m targeting people in Asian countries who want the kind of news that American or English people would typically get about that topic.

For instance, let’s say my site is a football blog. The Taiwanese or Singaporean sports channels aren’t going to give as in-depth information about the Premier League and the going’s on as well as people in the UK who have direct access to the players, the managers, the coaching staff and so on. With my site I bridge the gap that people might experience.

Secondly, my website is about a specific topic. While it does have a huge audience – again, something like football – it is definitely a brand for people who have more passion about that particular industry than the average person.

The main concern a lot of people have when it comes to niching down is that you lose your income potential. After all, surely you make less money when your content appeals to five million people in the US and not 100 million.

You would be surprised. In a lot of cases, the smaller audience can generate a greater income simply because you know what kind of ads, products and services you can sell to them.

If you run a generic site like Viral Nova you’re pretty much set on running generic ads that please all people.

If you niche down, though, you can target people with live streaming software so they can catch games, affiliate links to local cable subscription channels, club merchandise, DVD’s of their favourite club scoring goals and so on.

In my personal example; I’ve niched down twice. Once by the geographic region I’m targeting and once by the specific industry I cover.

Based on Facebook likes, I’m currently the 2nd biggest brand for the people I’m targeting (that’s over 330,000 Likes at the time of writing this).

The biggest page, which represents a website more than 5 years old, “only” have 371,000 likes.

The interesting part is this: They are part of a company worth more than $100 million who are utilising Facebook in a large number of markets. In fact, just a few months ago, they purchased another brand in this space for $15m.

While I don’t expect to be pulling in a million dollars per year from this website any time soon, I can definitely see it doing $10,000 to $15,000 per month in the not too distant future.

This leads me to the next important point about being able to niche down your website: You can build a brand that people will come back to even if Facebook traffic is no longer in your favour. That is so important if you’re in this for the long-haul.

So What Happened to the Viral Nova Clones?

In preparation for this post I had of course delved back into the traffic stats for sites like Viral Nova and Bored Panda to see how Facebook changes had fared for them. In all honesty, I expected their traffic to have dropped significantly (especially for Viral Nova) due to how little activity they’re getting on individual status updates compared to the past. While I don’t have direct access to their traffic stats, Compete.com, Alexa and Similar web all show similar dips and spikes that aren’t too drastically different from the numbers they used to reach.

Even Upworthy, which was mocked by big publications for losing a huge share of their traffic, have been able to keep levels steady over the last few months. 10 million visitors per month is nothing to scoff at.

Tools that predict website traffic show Viral Nova reaching around 9 million US unique visitors in March of 2015. For Bored Panda they all show the site generally reaching 30-40 million (!) US unique visitors.

Those numbers appear to be fairly consistent over the past few months. It’s clear from looking at general viral-style sites that BoredPanda have put a lot more work into their appearance to try and make it look like a legitimate resource compared to the competition.

While Viral Nova was redesigned since it first launched, the site still gives off a “tacky” feel and with so many competitors, there’s nothing that would make new visitors to the site feel like it’s any different from the hundreds of other sites in this field they see on Facebook.

Although the visitor numbers don’t predict any negative trends just yet, I can’t help but feel that the future does not look great for these sites that rely so heavily on this resource. Though I’m sure the owners won’t mind too much; the income they have made is ridiculous.

The Angle You Should Take to Build a Sustainable Viral-News Site

When I first covered these sites more than a year ago it was clear there was a lot of room for competitors to enter the industry and follow a similar pattern: Write viral content for the masses and target it to the masses.

While those sites haven’t died just yet, I can’t see their results stretching very far into the future. As I covered at the start of this post, if you’re going to attempt to build one of these sites now, go niche.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even dedicate an entire site to a niche version of Viral Nova.

Build a website for a specific audience (football lovers, car lovers, animal lovers) and have a small percentage of your content focused towards “clickbait” style stories which will bring in floods of traffic.

This is exactly what I have done for my own niche site and the results are incredible so far. On a daily basis we write around 8-10 articles on our topic, 5-7 of which will be news related or at least informative.

Two or three of these articles each day will be virally-focused, “You won’t believe what happened when X”, but still related to my industry.

I’m not the only one noticing this.

To help you better understand what I’m talking about here, it’s probably better to give an example.

Empire Flippers: A Free Strategy-in-Action Guide to Making This Work

I’ll tell you now, this has been a very difficult update to write. If it hasn’t ‘flowed’ as well as my previous updates I apologise, but there are just so many tangents and things I want to talk about that make it very difficult to piece together.

To try and fix that, I have decided to add an example of how to put this into action.

It should already be clear to you that if you’re still tempted to build a viral-style website, go niche. Don’t target everyone. I still think there’s a ton of money to be made with that angle.

Trying to think long-term, by own recommendations would be a little different.

Empire Flippers is a website ran by two guys who have based their entire brand around helping people sell their websites. Their homepage entices you to buy or sell a website. Their blog teaches you how to buy or sell a website. Their podcast, you guessed it, talks about buying and selling websites (mostly). There is very little more to it than that.

So, how could a brand like that with such a laser-focus use this topic to reach more people? A laser-like focus that you hopefully have for your own industry?

Here are just a few content ideas from the top of my head:

  • “You wouldn’t believe what the world’s most expensive domain name sold for”
  • “Guess how much the highest winning bid was for a listing on Flippa”
  • “Here are 10 teenagers who went from broke to millionaire by selling their website”

I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea.

Now, the important part of course, at least for this strategy, is to do this sparingly. If they started doing this daily or even just once per week, there’s no doubt that they would lose some of the credibility with their audience.

However, there would certainly be no harm in throwing this in their usual content once a month or even once a fortnight. I like their brand, and would definitely click on those article titles. It’s a niche I care about…I don’t feel like I’m being baited if I get the content the headline promised!

If you’ve been involved in making websites or internet marketing for a while then saying ‘write viral content’ probably isn’t anything new to you. However, the angle here is to make the emphasis of that viral content almost entirely angled towards Facebook users.

It’s not to get Reddit talking about you (though that would be nice). It’s not to get bloggers linking to you. It’s not to reach the top 1,000 websites on Alexa for the day. It’s about reaching a huge Facebook audience that will convert on your site in various ways. That’s the primary goal.

The first step to taking advantage of Facebook in this way – etchical, but profitable – is to start building a large Facebook page. I’ve wrote about a ton of ways to do that over here.

While buying likes doesn’t mean you’ll reach the people you ‘bought’ over and over again, it does let you reach them for cheaper in the future, or at least a percentage for free.

How Writing Great Content Can Help You to Reach $7 Million Dollar Annual Revenue

Now that you’ve seen how I would write content for one industry, let’s look at another example. Veteran internet marketers will be all too aware of how well Pingdom – a site monitoring service which tells you if your website goes offline – have done with content marketing. When I first started out online I would see people talking about their blog at every chance and of course, that got you thinking about the service that they offer.

I always knew they were doing more than $1m per year, but according to Hoovers.com, they’re now pulling in close to $7m per year in revenue.

The content they posted was always with the times and something you wanted to talk about. “How to make sure your blog survives the Digg effect” was perfectly timed back in 2007 when Digg was known for sending so much traffic to sites that they went offline. Sharing that “Reddit is twice as fast as Digg” gave Reddit users something to be interested in and they happily shared the article out of pride.

Headlines like “The ‘top secret’ room where 260 internet services providers connect” peaked curiosity, as did “The Geekiest articles on Wikipedia”. Both earned clicks from feed readers. The list of clever articles they posted goes on and on.

They continually shared great, interesting content, related to their niche that you just want to talk about. Their writers deserve a raise if they haven’t had many already.

I feel like webmasters today are missing out on taking these kind of angles with their content to help reach the masses. Sure, you’ll reach a lot of people who probably aren’t interested in your services if you do ‘go viral’, but you’ll reach a lot of people who are as well.

Now that the two strategy options are clear, let’s get into some actionable tactics.

Pay to Play or Not: Facebook Is Still Where It’s At

There are increasing complaints from Facebook marketers that their organic reach is down and Facebook is becoming too ‘pay to play’. If you’ve been piggybacking off Facebook’s growth for free then you don’t really have anything to complain about.

I do understand the frustration on the part of people who have paid for a lot of Facebook likes – via Facebook’s own platform – and still can’t reach those people with every update, but I at least find reaching them again cheaper than it was the first time.

It can only be considered that this situation is going to get much worse. The growth of Facebook is already slowing down – they’ve reached a huge portion of the population already – and the people looking to market to those users is only increasing.

I alone have six pages which I actively use to try to target people on the site. There just isn’t enough space in the News feed for Facebook to show everything to everyone.

I’m not trying to suck up to them here – they are truly awful when it comes to advertiser support – but if your Facebook feed was purely full of page updates and hid everything your friends share you would stop visiting so much and they wouldn’t have an audience to monetise any more.

While organic reach may be disappearing, smart marketers are definitely still getting an ROI from the platform. After all, Facebook users:

  • Buy products from your website
  • Click on links with enticing headlines
  • Sign-up to email lists
  • Enter competitions
  • Share your website with their friends and family

They may be harder to reach, but they definitely still have an audience full of people who will convert if you can reach them with the write right angle.

Try to Get Other Niche-Focused Pages to Talk About You

The surprising truth about a lot of big Facebook pages in certain industries is that they were never designed to make money and don’t really have the potential to make money. Many of them were just created by people who wanted to share something that they’re interested in. As such, when they have the opportunity to make money from their page or even just “share something cool” they’ll often, surprisingly, jump at the chance.

To see what I’m talking about, let me show you some of the popular ‘car guys’ on Facebook who are promoting the content of Car Buzz (example #2 above). This is the first time I’ve ever embedded a Facebook status so apologies if it looks weird or doesn’t work on mobile, etc.

Supercars of London are sharing their posts…

Have a 911 TUBRO but still WANT #MOREPOWER !?

Posted by SuperCarsofLondon on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Brian Zuk (with more than 2.2 million fans) is sharing their posts…

Poor 997 Turbo :( Drive Safe Everyone!

Posted by BrianZuk on Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alex Smolik (with more than 2.5 million fans) is sharing their posts…

Can you believe someone did this to an SL500?

Posted by alexsmolik on Friday, April 17, 2015

From what I recall, Supercars of London is actually a huge Youtube brand but it doesn’t appear that they’ve transferred that over to Facebook too well (“just” 34,000 likes). The other two guys however clearly have a huge following.

Here’s the thing about those two popular pages: They photograph cars for a living. They probably never expected to make any money from their pages besides potentially having car brands notice their skills and reach out to hire them.

Of course, I have no idea how or why they’re sharing CarBuzz articles but these are not once-off incidents; they share at least two to three articles per week from the brand. I expect some money is involved, but it’s probably less than you expect.

Recently I reached out to a popular page in the industry I’m targeting who had 100,000 more fans than me at the time. I asked them if I could pay them to link to my articles. To be honest, they were the second biggest brand in the field (we just overtook them) and I never expected a reply.

After a few phone calls we got an answer: $600 for 10 status updates with my link in them. The only caveat was that they must be all be shared within one month.

Was it worth it? Hell yeah. I had new record days thanks to them mentioning me, especially since Facebook give far more weight and prominence to a story when multiple brands are mentioning it. I also got to pick which time they went live – I asked for 7pm – in relation to when most of my audience are checking Facebook.

Be sure to read my latest Facebook posts on the ViperChill blog if you have no idea how to determine when most of your fans are online.

While it’s hard to measure branding, they quickly allowed me to be seen by my target audience as a website to watch. After all, the audience had no idea I was paying for these mentions; they just saw a Facebook page they love sharing links to another related website.

Trust Me on This One: Write Your Own Viral Content

When you see the success of other brands with certain content they’ve posted, it can be very tempting to almost duplicate it exactly. If something gets 50,000 shares on Buzzfeed and it’s mostly picture-based content, it’s very tempting to just copy those images, put them on your site, and reap the viral benefits as well.

Even if you’re focusing on a specific niche industry, you will likely find other sites in your field who are posting some form of content that ‘goes viral’ and be tempted to mimic that.

If I’m being honest with you, for my own site, I do this for around 10% of posts. I don’t just go and steal their original content, but if they have found a Youtube video that their audience appears to love, for instance, I’ll go and put that video on my site and share it also.

Generally, these updates do quite well, but they never do great. I know what goes viral for one audience should generally do well for another audience with the same interests – that dress was definitely white and gold – but there’s always going to be a slight disconnect if it wasn’t your discovery or it doesn’t fit perfectly within your niche.

Every single one of my own viral content examples have done 10X better (traffic wise) than any viral story I have attempted to copy from other websites.

My first attempt, which I tweeted a few weeks ago, started off terribly. It didn’t get the likes or comments or shares on Facebook which a post of mine normally would. I assumed it had failed.

What I wasn’t looking at was my traffic stats: People weren’t interacting on the Facebook update as much as usual – in a very short time frame – because they were all clicking on the link. That was the day we hit more than 20,000 visitors for the first time.

Only on one occation where we’ve wrote our own content with the aim of having it spread throughout our audience and the rest of Facebook has it ‘failed’. Even in that failure example, it still did as well as a typical post. Just not better, which we had hoped for.

Car Throttle, the huge car start-up owned by 25 year old Adnan Ebrahim, do this very well. Each day they publish – along with user-generated content – dozens if not hundreds of articles from other websites. Whether that’s the trailer of car games which are coming out or a video about how NOS works from Engineering Explained.

What they also produce is their own content which no doubt has the intention of going viral. Trust me, it does.

Adnan tweets a lot about the company and just last month shared that Car Throttle reached more than 1 million pageviews in a day for the first time ever. A new record for the site. The following day, they broke that record again.

You may be worried that this ‘viral-style content’ is difficult to come up with on your own. Maybe you think you’re not creative enough or just don’t have ideas like people who trawl through 9Gag or IMGUR all of their waking hours.

Here’s my honest thoughts: If you spend enough time thinking about your website and the industry you’re in – not about what viral content to write – you’ll find these ideas coming to you more than you would expect.

I’ve read so many posts on CarThrottle that I could write their own viral content for them. One car they like to obsess over is the Mazda MX-5; in part (in full?) because it has these little headlights which go up and down at the push of a button.

They took the concept so far that they had their Photoshop experts imagine what other cars would look like with a similar feature.

The idea that came to me? What would phones look like if car companies made them? I know there are phones made by car companies, but we’re thinking viral here.

The Lamborghini phone could have a lighter at the bottom which mimics the flames you might find on a modified Aventador exhaust.

The Mazda phone would of course feature a cute little pop-up torch on the back of the phone you could put up and down all day until your heart’s content.

Maybe Volkswagen would design a phone with a huge curved back, reminiscent of their iconic Beetle design.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. I’m sure Adnan’s Photoshop guys would whip this up in a jiffy.

Avoid the 99%: Don’t Get Stuck in the Middle

There are really two angles that we’ve covered in this series update: The huge sites like BoredPanda that reach anybody and everyone, and the smaller niche communities like ArtofManliness which reach a smaller audience (but still a lot of people).

The worst thing you could do – which 99% of people seem to get stuck into – is just landing somewhere in the middle. By becoming a site which tries to reach everyone yet you do nothing that sets you apart from other viral sites, or you go so niche there’s no audience potential left for your audience to grow.

I don’t care how much you love the Wombles, the 80’s are over bro.

Recently, one tech news website I used to follow, GigaOm, announced they were closing their doors. They were reaching millions of people per month but had simply taken on too much capital from creditors without making their site profitable enough to pay it back.

One of the staff writers there had this to say in his own post on why the site died,

There’s a sort of barbell effect: If you are super small and super focused and super niche you can succeed, arguably. And if you’re super huge and mass and gigantic and growing quickly, you can succeed. But in the middle, is death. The valley of death. So arguably we got caught in that valley of death.”

Since writing is his job, he obviously wrote that better than I did. Either way, the point is very clear.

I Can’t Help You With Your Facebook Traffic Arbitrage

My original blog post on Viral Nova and the follow-up article resulted in more people emailing me questions than any other article I’ve ever written. I’m talking almost 1,000 emails, and I still get them to this day.

What a lot of people email me about is Facebook arbitrage. While that might seem like a strange word, it basically means paying for traffic from Facebook and making enough money on ads that you can continue to pay for the traffic at a profit. So you pay $100 on Facebook ads but make $120 from Google Adsense or Taboola or any other network as a result.

A lot of people seem to be focusing on this.

I saw an income report on Dukeo.com where that was literally their only monetisation angle when trying to make one of these sites profitable, “These websites are all about arbitraging traffic, and I wasn’t able to find a winning monetization strategy.

As a result, I am leaving these sites on autopilot for now, and I’ll see if I can think of a better way to monetize them later.

While I’ve heard the success stories of people making thousands of dollars with this, it’s honestly not a concern or interest of mine. If this is your focus, I really can’t help you.

One of the great things about niching down – you know, the core focus of this article – is that you reach a niche-focused audience that you can target with niche-focused products. You don’t just have to get traffic from Facebook and then send people straight to a website about “exercises to give you 20/20 vision in 24 hours” or “cure baldness by doing this daily”.

You get the audience and you pitch them on products related to how the industry that attracted them to your site in the first place.

The Simple, Logical Way to Boost the Right Facebook Updates

For people who have spent a lot of time advertising on Facebook, this section probably won’t be anything mind-blowing to you. However, I really wanted to include it here after being amazed by people who email me saying they’re spending a lot of money “boosting posts” but aren’t seeing a lot of results with them.

There should never, ever be a post you boost that doesn’t get a ton of traction.

Why?

Because you don’t boost it unless the “free” post got traction.

What you may not know about any Facebook status you write is that you can click on the number of people that the post has reached. A pop-up will indicate how many people clicked on your post link alongside how many people saw your update.

If you’re just starting out this number is probably very small but don’t underestimate how quickly you can build your audience (via Likes) through writing great content and of course setting aside a small budget for purchasing them as well.

What I’m generally looking for is a post that made at least 5% of the people it reached click on the link. Something closer to 10% is much better. If it hasn’t reached those numbers, no matter how small the audience is, I will not boost it (meaning: I will not run any ads for that post).

When I find something that does hit those numbers, I push it hard. Here’s an example from one of my own campaigns:

post-clicks

From memory, I don’t believe I spent more than $30 on this campaign yet it sent me more than 40,000 visitors. Facebook rewards ads that get a lot of traction in terms of likes and shares. If something gets a lot of clicks when you’re sharing it as a normal status, only then do you give it a push.

Otherwise, let it disappear into the ether.

Once They’re Hooked, Hook Them for Life

If you’re getting traffic from Facebook, please be placing cookies on your users browsers!

That sounds terrible.

If you’re getting traffic from Facebook, please track the people who go to your site so you can stalk them around the web.

That also sounds terrible.

Yet, it’s not far from reality. Facebook allows retargeting so that you can reach people who have performed a specific action on your site and target them again. If someone visited a certain page, such as your opt-in page, but didn’t visit your opt-in confirmation page, you can keep bugging them until they do give up their email address.

It only takes a line of code – which Facebook provide – to put this tracking in place.

I don’t want to make this post longer by explaining retargeting (remarketing?) but please make sure you’re doing it. I recommend adding Google remarketing to that list also. Even if you have no plans to use Google Adwords anytime soon, at least place those cookies in case you change your mind.

It’s much cheaper to reach people if you’ve already reached them before. One of the ways I’m able to get so much traffic to my site with a small budget is because I target people who have already shown me they would click on my links on Facebook before.

As of writing this, I have nearly 200,000 people on a remarketing list who have already shown me they click on links in their Facebook news feed. Why would I not want to target them again?

This is by far my longest series update yet, so lets finish it off in style.

Tl;dr

– If you’re going to start a viral-news site, make sure it targets a specific niche

– If you want to run a ‘legitimate site’, take advantage of the ton of traffic that Facebook offers, before it’s too late, by catering to people who love these clickbait headlines.

Thank you, as always, for reading!

P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at hq@viperchill.com. I don’t have an assistant and read every single email myself. If I feel I can help you with your question I will update this page with my answer – just like I did on the last niche idea – and reply to let you know I have done so.

Thank you for reading. I can’t wait to send you the next niche idea.

Last Updated: Thursday, 21st of September (2016)

With every niche idea sent out you’ll see me go back to it now and again to answer any questions received or update people based on any feedback.

Update #1: “Are you allowed to re-publish other people’s content on your news site?”

There’s not really a great answer for this one since it’s not a topic many people like to tackle. Most people’s viewpoint is that if you link back to the original source then it’s okay to repurpose an article they wrote. You of course just can’t copy every single word and all of their pictures. Keep in mind that if you are taking content from another viral-style site then the pictures probably aren’t there’s either so see who they are linking to.

Buzzfeed have the attention of the planet but take a lot of content from other sites; linking back to the original creator seems to be okay for them. Though they did say they have to take down content when they are asked to do so.

For my own site, never take written content from other sources; generally just videos that they’ve found on Youtube that I’ll add to my own site as well.

Update #2: “How do you get the initial traction? Is it all paid facebook advertising? And it is post promotion or page promotion?”

Pretty much all Facebook, yes. I like to buy likes initially and once you have a good base foundation (I can’t give a number here as it will vary wildly based on the location and niche you’re targeting) I will then start promoting posts which have already proven to get some traction after sharing them without and post promotion. So, page first, posts after you’ve built up an audience.

Update #3: “How do you churn out 8-10 articles a day? Do you outsource them and what rate do you pay?”

I currently pay $900 per month for content writing which is two people working just a couple of hours per day. This is Monday to Friday; I don’t ask for articles on weekends. I will never need to pay for more articles than I currently get, no matter how big my site gets. In my industry the updates are often around videos and pictures so most stories don’t need a lot of writing. 8-10 articles for a blog like mine (ViperChill) would sound like a lot but 8-10 articles for a site which is often focused on viral content is really not much writing.

Update #4: “You mentioned ‘Recently I reached out to a popular page in the industry’. How did you do this? I’m having problems contacting these pages.”

Sending page messages didn’t work for me either. Use the contact form on their site or …what worked for me in the example I gave above was using the phone. Old school, I know, but when you talk with someone they can see you’re serious and not going to waste their time about not paying or not having something good to share.

A WHOIS search might help you get their number if it’s not publicly available. In my case it was at the bottom of their website.

Update #5: “However, I’m stuck on one point – my domain name. It’s kind of (well, lot of) off-topic here, but have you got any strategy for choosing suitable, unique name of website?”

You’re asking a guy who’s website name is ViperChill how to pick a domain name? Hah. As you can guess, I’m probably not the best source for this.

It takes me far too long to think of domain names myself but at the end of the day I generally just think, as long as the name makes sense I can make a brand out of it. The guys who own Envato are pulling in millions of dollars yet all of their online marketplaces use .net domains. I would never buy a .net domain personally, but because of their branding, I’ve never accidentally typed .com into an address bar when trying to go to their site.

Nameboy.com or an online thesaurus might be useful to you if you have some words to start with. Don’t stress about it too much!

Update #6: “Do I need to spend big and hire writers full time? Can I find quality writers in your part of the world, on Onlinejobs or Freelancer?”

As answered above to a similar question, you are probably going to need less writing than you need. You could hire a part-time US-based writer for less than $1,000 per month or you could hire two people from the Phillipines for a similar price. It really depends what you want people to write.

Onlinejobs.ph is good but I don’t really like their subscription model; I much prefer how Odesk manage things so I would start there to look for your writers.

Update #7: “I built a niche site [removed] which is generating around 150,000 page views per week. I’m currently running contentclick on my site but the CPC for ad clicks is so low 0.02 per click at times. Is Adsense better in your opinion?”

Hopefully my advice here isn’t too dated but I’ve always known Adsense to pay better than any other form of ad when you’re generating a lot of traffic. Surely there’s no harm in trying?

Personally though, since your niche is so specific, I would be doing a lot more than just putting Adsense on my articles. Why are you not offering tour packages to the places your stories take place in?

Update #8: “Is their any guide about best practices to creating such a viral news site or article ? I already have some ideas in mind and want to execute them.”

I like that you’re thinking of putting the idea into action but honestly, I recommend learning as you go. There are no ‘best practices’ that I can think of that have been shared online and wouldn’t really expect anyone to do that. After all, this is a fairly new phenomenon and everyone else is just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

You might get some value out of my first post on the topic here or the second one here. Sorry I couldn’t really help you more.

Update #9: “I keep feeling there’s a real opportunity here within the [removed] niche. After reading your latest post, I’m left with this question: what’s the next step I should be taking to try to make this site a success?”

I love your niche angle, Eddy. I understand having 5-kids keeps you very busy but you must put some work into your site. There’s nothing at all about the design that screams “this is for [your niche]”. Not even the logo. Build a brand here, don’t just have a site that looks like every other in this space. Look at PawMyGosh – also created by the founder of Viral Nova – to see a well designed site for a specific field.

Don’t worry about writing more content just yet; start growing your Facebook audience first.

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