Perhaps you’re wondering, “What is a niche website?”
A niche site typically focuses on a single subject like sports cars and attracts traffic through high-quality articles optimized for search. A hyper-niche site dives down into that niche even further.
During the early 2000s, Canadian lawyer Jon Dykstra faced a unique challenge. His employer wanted him to attract more clients through blogging and content marketing. So Dykstra began writing about legal topics that interested clients, based on their search queries.
Today, he regularly earns over $40,000 a month from online publishing.
In this interview, Jon explains:
- What a niche website is and why they’re so profitable
- Why niche sites are ideal business opportunities for writers
- Where to get niche website ideas
- What Jon would do if he had just one hour a week to work
And lots more.
I start by asking Jon how he transitioned from a career as a lawyer to becoming an online publisher running nine profitable niche sites.
So Jon, it's great to talk to you today. I was wondering if you could walk me through how you managed to transition from a career in law or as a lawyer to what you're doing now, which is building a profitable niche sites online.
Yeah, happy to, well it was a long transition. Most of these situations are. I was practicing law and as a young lawyer I needed more clients so we decided to get a website going. This was way back when a lot of small business didn't have a website, lawyers included. So we got that going and we hired a company to do that for us because I knew nothing about it. What they did was something that was novel back then and they included, they did the usual business website, but they actually had a blogging component, a CMS. Essentially kind of like WordPress but built in, and this was back in '07 around... '06 and they said to me, they were pretty revolutionary in the whole SEO. They recognized the blogging potential and they say, Hey, as a lawyer if you want to get more clients and traffic, blog.
And so I started doing that and that's essentially how I got into it. I really liked it. I loved writing about various things that we did with our law practice and just giving information to potential clients and it worked really, really well. And so it grew from there. I started really just enjoying the whole online blogging aspect, the writing aspect and of course the marketing and the search engine optimization that resulted from that. So I started dabbling a little bit with some general content websites that I'd read about and kind of built those on the side. And eventually they grew and so did the blog. The transition is I continued to help some other law firms with their online marketing back then this is all pretty novel stuff. And then potentially... or eventually I should say my new sites just started growing. Eventually you're forced to choose. It's hard to do both. And I really just seemed to like the blogging side more and the writing side online more and opted to go that route.
When or what year was it when you decided to do it full time?
2012, early 2012, we actually built up the law practice. I managed to do fairly well with the whole online thing. And I did that for a number of years and the content sites thing didn't come till quite a bit later. I was focusing on the small business website and the local blog for a long time and that was a really important thing for me and it worked like gangbusters. It still works. I encourage... I have colleagues and friends who own local small businesses, I still a hundred percent encourage them to blog and provide really good information on their sites for their prospective customers or clients.
So did you, just so I understand correctly, did you leave your job as a lawyer to work on the niche sites or to manage the small business site that you've described?
More toward the niche sites. That was the ultimate end goal to help with the transition financially. I didn't take on a lot of marketing work. I took enough on so that it would help me get by. When I did the transition in 2012 my niche sites were doing quite well already. The marketing was sort of a bit of a safety net because that's a totally different business model. But I knew that while I didn't mind doing that, that wasn't something I wanted to do indefinitely. Like the end game was being an online publisher that was really wanted to do. And so that was my goal and that's where I'm at today.
An online publisher, which you certainly are. If I followed you correctly, you have at least six, maybe seven niche sites, is that correct?
Yeah, correct. A nine actually.
But you know, it's easy to say that several of them are very small and don't do anything. They're merely ideas. And here's why I do that, it's very difficult to manage that many sites. And the reason for that is like, really, I really focus on four sites right now, I would say. And the reason it's hard is your costs go up exponentially. I mean, just simple things like little tech issues that can happen across all your sites. Well, instead of dealing with one site, you've got to be a multiple site. So it exponentially pulls away from your time. And when you have one or two large sites that's very demanding as much as you outsource and have a team in place, it still requires a lot of my time.