One morning, nearly two years ago to the day, I was poking around the r/juststart subreddit.
r/juststart describe themselves as a “community created to share and discuss real experiences with affiliate marketing, search engine optimization and related topics. We share case studies, discuss best practices and question methods used by ourselves and others.”
I was in the early innings of my first site, and I was already deep, deep down the rabbit hole.
By this time Mike’s first site was just starting to explode in monthly income and my site’s traffic was accelerating at an unusually fast rate for a brand new site.
For the most part I was just a Reddit lurker – endlessly and anonymously consuming content (before I fully appreciated that Twitter is where the real action is at).
But then, I came across the following question posed to the r/juststart community by a user named Scott511:
Very small niche I’m passionate about or larger niche I don’t care about?
And for whatever reason, on this particular morning I felt compelled to respond.
Here was my exact response…and how different my response would be today.
*Yes, my username ‘Beyond-The-Coin’ was a nod to Bitcoin. And yes, it’s lame. Don’t @ me. When I first created this account over 6 years ago, it was the Bitcoin rabbit hole I was lost in.*
Re-reading my response today brings me back to that rush you get when your site first starts to take off. It also makes me second guess whether it was truly me who wrote it.
It’s an incredible reminder just how much can change in such a short period of time.
10 trillion Google algo updates later, and it’s shocking how bad this advice was.
But as John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” (bitcoiners will appreciate the irony 😉).
Here’s what I would say today – passion, interest, some expertise and a genuine love of a topic should be what drives your niche selection process.
I would even take it a step further.
Ask yourself these questions – If the site you’re thinking about creating never meaningfully monetized, would you still do it? Would there still be some net benefit or gain for you? Or would you view it as a complete waste of time?
Here’s what I know to be true.
If Epic Gardening never took off, Kevin Espiritu would still be out there gardening every day.
If Retro Dodo and Card Gamer never took off, Brandon Saltalamacchia would still be gaming.
If Organically Addison never took off, Addison LaBonte would still be cooking.
You get the idea.
This is the topic that Mike and I have been endlessly discussing over the past few weeks.
Mike has been noticeably excited lately about all the family vacations he’ll be taking to get fresh content for Stay New England. He’s also getting to know the small business owners at all his favorite places.
I work with and consume content about startups everyday. It’s what I love. Writing about their journeys helps crystalize my understanding and interviewing founders brings me closer to a community of people I respect and admire.
No matter what happens to our sites, how could any of these things be viewed as anything but a net gain?
And I think that’s my answer today. This is where you should start.
This is NOT the feeling I got when I was up at 4:00am explaining the difference between a ‘factory reset’ and a ‘hard reset’ on an for The Flexible Worker.
Boring, boring, boring…for me.
But there’s someone out there right now (maybe one of our readers) who’s in the process of rebuilding their desktop PC from the ground up in their basement – for no other reason than that they LOVE doing it.
That’s who should be running a tech troubleshooting site.
Alright, that’s all for this week.
And for anyone worried about Scott511 and the terrible advice I gave him two years ago…it seems he had the right idea all along.
Have a weekend! ✌️
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