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Over the past few years, I’ve successfully built several niches sites, each to over 250,000 pageviews and several thousand dollars per month. I’ve been able to do this because I’ve done a lot of research and learned from my past mistakes.

Part of me wishes I could say that I had this all figured out from day 1, but at the same time, my team and I wouldn’t be where we are without hitting those road bumps along the way.

People always say to learn from your mistakes, and while I obviously agree with the sentiment, it’s easier said than done when building niche sites. Niche websites take months to over a year to gain traction, which means you won’t know if all the hard work you put in along the way was for nothing.

If you’re one of the patient and persistent ones who stick to the daily grind to the one year mark, you still may only be rewarded with a trickle of traffic and little to no revenue. If you’re like most people though, you’ll give up long before you even have a chance to find out what worked and what didn’t.

In my case, my wife and I built a few small niche sites many years ago and gave up early in the process with no success. However, we at least kept those sites living for long enough to surprisingly learn down the road that they were bringing in a trickle of traffic and a small amount of money from Amazon affiliate links.

After I got back into round #2 of building niche websites several years ago after a few failed attempts at other ways of making money online, I had at least picked up on one mistake I made the first go around, which was not having enough patience.

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Aside from having patience, which I’ll touch on below, this time around, I took things seriously and researched like a mad man. Literally every day for months, I would read blog posts or watch videos on building niche sites. I even took a paid course.

When my wife and I launched our first site during this time, it was a success. That’s not to say we didn’t make some additional mistakes, but I had at least identified enough of them from my first attempt at building niche sites that it didn’t matter.

In this post, I’m going to share the top mistakes that most people make that cause a niche website to fail.

Let’s dive in.

1 – Giving Up Too Early

I Quit

One of the biggest reasons that people often fail when trying to build a passive income stream with a niche site is that they simply give up too early. As I mentioned above, I fell for this one when I first got into building niche sites many years ago.

This one is pretty easy to understand once you have a realistic expectation of how long it takes to grow traffic to a brand new site. If you’re using my system for building passive income sites, you’re going to mostly be targeting low-competition keywords. Even in that scenario, you can’t expect to see much traffic until the 9-12 month mark.

If you try to be more aggressive and target keywords with higher competition, expect it to take even longer.

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And that bring me to my next point…

2 – Targeting Highly Competitive Keywords

While it’s definitely possible to build a successful site that targets medium to high competition keywords, you’re going to have to take a different approach. That approach will involve building links, which I don’t recommend.

If you don’t link-build and you target highly competitive keywords with a brand new site, don’t expect to see any traffic right away, if ever. To compete for competitive keywords, you need to first build up some authority to your site and get some backlinks to your articles (which can and does happen naturally over time).

3 – Targeting Keywords with No Search Volume

Let’s say you are targeting low-competition keywords like my team and I do. Does that put you in the clear? Not necessarily.

Just because a keyword doesn’t have competition, it doesn’t mean it will bring traffic to your site. Every niche out there has a plethora of obscure search terms that might occasionally get searched, but will not bring you enough traffic to realistically grow a passive income site.

Targeting a handful of these early on can be part of a good overall strategy, but if the bulk of your posts are targeting “no-volume” keywords, you’re not going to get enough traffic to be dangerous.

4 – Targeting the Wrong Niche

This is a big one, so I’ve broken it out into several categories. Not all niches are good targets for a new site, and if you pick the wrong one, your success will be small, delayed, or non-existent.

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Too Small

A big mistake that many new site owners make it to pick a niche that is simply too small. While there are advantages to picking a small niche, if you pick one that doesn’t have enough overall potential search volume, you’ll quickly run out of topics to write about.

Too Trendy

Dabbing Trend Screenshot

Something else to consider when picking a niche is the type of content that you’ll be posting. If the majority of your content is about trending topics, you’re going to really struggle to gain traction. Not to mention, a site about trending topics definitely does not fit the passive income criteria that most of us are after.

Too Seasonal

Christmas Trend Screenshot

Along the same lines, if you pick a niche that is seasonal, you’re going to see certain periods of the year that don’t generate much traffic or income.

Seasonal sites are okay, as long as you know what to expect. We have some seasonality to our sites, but because we have several sites bringing in traffic and revenue, they balance each other out nicely.


Another thing to check before committing to a niche is the trend over time. Maybe you think you have the perfect niche, but it’s been trending downward over the last five years. If you don’t know about downward trend, you could be entering a niche with no long term potential.

To see how a niche is trending over time, just head over to Google Trends and run a check on some of the biggest keywords in your target niche.

Too Authoritative

Some niches might seem like perfect targets, but due to recent changes in how Google perceives certain fields, you might not qualify in their eyes to show up very high in the search results.

Sites in niches that require expertise or relate to health are treated differently from general info sites. If you don’t have a way to show Google that you are an expert in the field or that you can back up your claims, you’ll find it very difficult to move up in the rankings and get traffic to your site.

A Social Media Based Audience

Another type of niche to stay away from is one where most of the traffic comes from social media sources, things like fashion or home décor. Social media is simply too unreliable and inconsistent to build a new site that relies heavily on the performance of those channels.

Instead, always base your decisions on organic search traffic, Google specifically.

Not Easily Monetized

Counting Coins

Certain niches can be difficult to monetize due to the type of content being covered. Many of the major advertising networks simply won’t display ads on your site if it includes certain types of adult topics, meaning you’ll have to go with alternative ad networks that have a much lower payout.

5 – Writing on Broad Topics Early On

If you follow my methods for building passive income sites, you know how much I like to target broad niches. A broad niche allows you to grow over time without running out of content to cover.

With that being said, just because you want to target a broad niche doesn’t mean you should just post random articles on any topic within that niche. This will make it difficult for search engines to determine what your site is actually about and also put you up against some really large, competitive sites.

Instead, focus on a small subtopic within the larger niche in the beginning. As you’ve exhausted the keywords related to that subtopic, move on to another subtopic in the broad niche, and so on. Over time, you can build out posts that cover the entire niche and have those posts rank well organically.

6 – Not Adding Enough Content to the Site

Another common reason why new niche sites fail is that they don’t have enough content on them. This can mean one of two things: you either don’t have enough articles, or the articles that you do have aren’t long enough for the topics that you’re covering.

While it’s possible to throw 10 to 20 to 30 posts on a site and have some success, if you want to really increase your chances of making life-changing money, you need to aim higher. Shoot for 100 posts to start, with a long term goal of putting over 1,000 posts on your site.

As far as the length of each article, this depends on the topics and your competition. I have had success ranking articles as short as 500 words, but typically, I aim for a minimum of about 1,000 words for an article on just about any topic.

While some topics might not need 1,000 words on them, by adding more words than needed, you’ll often benefit by ranking for other related search terms that were covered within that article.

Don’t stick to 1,000 words across the board though. If a topic needs 2,000 or 3,000 words to thoroughly provide an answer to the searcher’s question, then by all means, write as many words as needed.

7 – Not Knowing Enough About the Niche

Man Sitting Behind Laptop

While you can definitely start a site in a niche without knowing anything about that niche, it typically doesn’t end well. If you’re writing your own articles, you’ll likely use the wrong lingo or make statements that simply don’t make sense in your articles, which will eventually lead to poor rankings as visitors interact with your site.

Even if you outsource all of the content, if you don’t know anything about the niche, you won’t be able to spot check the outsourced content to make sure your writers are on point. If you decide to go down this path anyway, just make sure to use writers that you absolutely trust.

8 – Targeting the Wrong Country

Unless you have a specific reason to target a specific country, you should always write content for a US based audience. US based advertisers are going to pay you the most by far for displaying ads on your site.

If your goal is to make as much passive income from your site as possible, it’s a no-brainer to target the United States.

9 – Outsourcing Too Much Content Early On

While you most certainly can outsource all of the content on your site, I don’t recommend it until you really know what you’re doing. No matter how much research you do about building niche sites, you will make mistakes on your first site.

Before outsourcing content, aim to write the first 50 or so articles for your website by yourself. By doing so, you’ll need to do plenty of research on the niche and get a feel for how the articles need to be written. This will better equip you for outsourcing once you’re ready.

10 – Assuming Outsourced Content Is Good

Sticking to the outsourcing theme, another reason for a new niche site failing is that the outsourced content was subpar. Don’t make assumptions that your writers care about how good your content is or that they even know what they’re writing about.

Always spot check the quality and accuracy of your outsourced content. And until you really trust your writers, make sure they aren’t simply copying content from other websites.

11 – Posting Poorly-Written Articles

Checking Spelling and Grammar

Whether your site’s articles were outsourced or written by you, if they’re poorly written, don’t expect them to perform well. While they might get some initial success as Google tests them in the search results, if your visitors aren’t interacting with them in a way that Google likes, you’ll lose rankings quickly.

Poorly-written articles can mean anything from not thoroughly covering the topic, adding too much unrelated information to an article, using improper spelling or grammar, and much, much, more.

12 – Writing Headlines That Don’t Attract Clicks

While having a great headline for an article can help your site rank more quickly, writing poor headlines can have the opposite effect.

Unless you’re targeting keywords with literally no competition, you’re going to be competing with at least a few other sites in the search results. If your post titles are significantly worse than your competitors’ titles, or if your titles really don’t match the searcher intent, don’t expect to get many clicks.

13 – Overdoing the Monetization

One of the main reasons that most of us start a niche website is to make money. That was definitely my #1 motivator for getting back into building niche sites.

One trap that many people fall into is trying to make money too early, or doing too much on their site to make money. By this I mean plastering advertisements and affiliate links all over your site.

This will kill any momentum you have with your new site and wouldn’t even help if you had a lot of traffic. No matter what the age of your site, always consider user experience when monetizing your content.

14 – Using Spun Content

Content spinning is basically the concept of taking existing articles, slightly changing the wording, then reposting it as your own. It should be a no-brainer not to do this, but you’d be surprised how common the practice is to this day.

People do this because they view it as a shortcut to success. This used to work in the past, but because Google has gotten much better at detecting things, you aren’t going to gain much traction if you don’t produce original content.


Another trap that many new site owners run into is unnaturally building links to their site. Link building is popular and for good reason. Getting links to your site can help grow the traffic to it more quickly.

The problem with link building is that Google doesn’t approve of it. At least, they don’t approve of unnatural link building, which includes writing guest posts and reaching out to other sites and asking for links to be placed on their sites.

While you can often get away with link-building on a site that already has plenty of links pointing at it, quickly getting a bunch of links pointing to a brand new site is a bad idea. Since this isn’t considered a natural progression for a new site, Google will likely detect the activity and stop that site’s growth in its tracks.

16 – Using WordPress.com

Using a platform like blogger or wordpress.com, not to be confused with wordpress.org, is great for a small blog personal blog to share your day-to-day activities. However, if you intend to make money with your blog, you really need to purchase a domain and hosting plan (start with Bluehost, which makes installing WordPress a breeze, then move to Rocket.net after you start generating good traffic).

When using something like wordpress.com, where the hosting is provided for you, your site will automatically display ads that generate revenue for someone else, and you won’t be allowed to add ads of your own.

In addition, it’s just too difficult to rank a website using one of these platforms, as they simply don’t perform well in search engines overall. Visitors are also less likely to trust the content as the ability to modify the appearance of your site is limited.

Final Thoughts

Building a niche website can be extremely rewarding, but with too many missteps early on, you’ll never get to taste success. While your approach doesn’t have to be perfect by any means, the less you do wrong, the better your chance of seeing positive results.

Do your best to avoid the common mistakes that people make when building websites. As long as you don’t make too many of them and you consistently post good content, your chance of earning a steady income from a passive income site is excellent.


After spending several years struggling to find a reliable way to make money online, I finally developed a simple system that produces large and consistent results. My small team and I are now generating life-changing income for all of us by building simple niche websites using the basic steps covered on Passive Income Unlocked.

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