US Government Takes Google to Trial, a New Public Project, and Weird Niche Sites
Spencer Haws and Jared Bauman, from 201 Creative, are back with the latest news in niche sites, SEO, and affiliate marketing.
The first order of business this week is the news that the Google Core Update has finished rolling out. Jared talks about how, instead of looking at his Google Analytics to see how his sites weathered the storm, he looks at his ad networks.
Jared shares information about the impact on a few of his sites and he talks about focusing more on earnings as opposed to fluctuations in traffic. Jared and Spencer also talk about how the update doesn’t appear to have had much of an impact on AI content.
The next news item on the agenda is the upcoming trial between the US vs. Google. Spencer talks about the potential implications of this monopoly trial, which is expected to last 10 weeks, on niche site owners and bloggers.
The main focus of the trial is whether or not it was illegal and monopolistic to not allow any other search engines to be used by default, although there are many other issues that will also be addressed in this important trial, which is expected to set a precedent.
They also mention quickly how Google is also in the news in the EU, where it’s accused of being a “gatekeeper” and has been ordered to give more freedom to other companies to compete under the new EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), starting in 2024.
The next topic they discuss is how YouTube is making it easier for creators to choose the perfect thumbnail. The platform is coming out with an A/B testing tool and this function could be available next year. This would allow users to upload 3 custom thumbnails and then YouTube would test behind the scenes to see which performs the best.
Jared and Spencer talk about how this will affect YouTubers and why they think this is a good move by the platform.
Then it’s time to talk about some Shiny Object Shenanigans. Spencer talks about hiring 6 local people to create reviews for his Amazon Influencer Program account, where he has 453 videos at the moment.
After earning around $1500 in August, he’s going all-in with this side hustle and expects to see an improvement in September and beyond. He also created a YouTube channel, where he’s going to publish all of his Amazon videos and see what happens.
Spencer also talks about a survey he recently published where he’s looking for people to create an online business and he will document it publicly on Niche Pursuits. The type of project hasn’t been decided yet, so don’t forget to vote for what you’d like to see!
Jared then talks about creating videos for his Weekender Growth YouTube channel, which has about 800 subscribers and 1,000 watch hours at the moment. Although he’s a far way away from monetization, he’s going to dedicate more time to this project going forward.
Then it’s time for everybody’s Weird Niche Site. Spencer shares his, which is HTTP Status Dogs, which combines HTTP status codes with photos of dogs illustrating those codes. The site used to get 20 to 30k in traffic but now only receives about 1000 visitors per month. It’s not monetized in any way, but it’s a good laugh.
Jared’s site this week is Cornify, a unicorns and rainbows on-demand website. Aside from lots of functions like adding unicorns and rainbows to photos, coloring pictures online, and making your own younicorn, the site also has a store linked to Amazon products. Despite this, it only ranks for around 400 keywords and less than 1000 monthly organic visitors, although it does have a DR of 57. Jared and Spencer also talk about what the site is doing right and how it could improve.
And that brings us to the end of another episode of Niche Pursuits News. Tune in next week so Spencer and Jared and keep you up-to-date with everything that’s happening in SEO, website building, and content creation.
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Spencer Haws:Hey everyone. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. This is this week in niche pursuits news, and I’m recording with my cohost today, Jared Bauman. Jared, how you doing?
Jared Bauman:Good, good Spencer. Good to see you, good to be here.
Spencer Haws:Yep, always good to be here. Always good to catch up on the latest news, the updates, you know, that are happening in our world of SEO affiliate marketing, niche sites, whatever you want to call it. And there is some more that was happening. It’s funny because a couple hours ago were like, kind of light on the news day and then a couple of things happened. And here we are. Got got more news to update. In particular, we’re going to jump into the Google core update has finished rolling out.
Jared Bauman:ding ding.
Spencer Haws:We mentioned it. you know, last week, last couple of weeks. And as of, I mean, it’s like less than 30 minutes ago, I think, like it just finished rolling out. And so we’re gonna talk about that. And so we’re gonna cover a few news topics here to start off the episode. And then we’re gonna jump into our shiny object shenanigans where each of us have a couple of side projects that we’re working on. We’ll give some updates there. And then finally, we’re gonna talk about two weird niche sites. Each of us have a weird niche site to bring to the table here. And yeah, they… They continue to be weird. That’s all I gotta say about that. So stick around. Mine, I think, is maybe less successful than some of mine have been in the past, but still weird nonetheless, and we will talk about it. So
Jared Bauman:I just
Jared Bauman:at yours now, so
Jared Bauman:I will be totally off the cuff on it because I didn’t see it until just a second ago.
Spencer Haws:That’s the way it should be, natural reaction. So let’s jump right into it. So like I said, the Google August core update has finished rolling out. And so basically Google just says, hey, we finished and that’s about all you get in terms of information from Google. They just have a status dashboard, which I’m sharing here. And so the August, 2023, update it started August 22nd and gives the exact time and then it finished today at 103 Pacific Standard Time. Today is September 7th when you listen to this that’ll be September 8th we release these a day after we record them but yeah it’s done so you can look at your website you can see where your rankings are currently and know that hey you either survived or did not survive the Google core update for August and so Jared I know that you tweeted some Stats out some results a little bit So I’ll go ahead and share my screen with that if you want to talk through what you shared on Twitter here
Jared Bauman:Yeah, I mean, I mentioned this last week. It’s particularly, it’s normal to go to your analytics and look at data to see how your sites have performed. And I find myself not wanting to go to analytics as much these days. And so I decided, hey, what if I went to one of my ad networks to evaluate how the update was doing? And it’s true, I tweeted about it. But at the end of the day, who really cares about traffic if it’s really more about how much money the page views are bringing you. So
Spencer Haws:It’s all about the bottom line.
Jared Bauman:it’s all about the bottom line. And so I kind of went and broke down because in this case I shared three different sites and their performance on Raptive or otherwise known as AdThrive. And you can see some different fluctuations from the core update first and foremost. And so you can see site one there has 125% traffic growth. So more than double, that’s one of the wins from the
Jared Bauman:core update. And earnings were on pace with it. So 125% uptick in traffic, 125% uptick in earnings. Big win there, that’s great. Site two, and this is one of my bigger sites, we got about a 12% traffic drop, which to me is not too big of a deal, just a little bit of a correction or something, but that was an 18% earnings drop. And so I dove in a little deeper, turns out I lost much more US traffic than I lost
Jared Bauman:in non-US traffic. And so that’s kind of why. And then the third site there had literally zero change in traffic. It’s flat, but earnings are up 22%. And why is that? Just because RPMs have gone up. Nothing to do with the core update at all. So anyways, it’s just a good reminder. Number one, definitely had some sites that saw some ups and some downs. And number two, the earnings that come from those ups and downs aren’t always the same. And that can be true for affiliates, that can be true for ad revenue, it can be true across the board.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, so if I’m looking at how you’re comparing and just for listeners, how they can maybe compare and say, hey, did my traffic really go up or down? It looks like you’re taking, you know, a couple of weeks before the update started, right? Back to August 8th. And then you’re taking, you know, the current timeframe, the, the two weeks or
Spencer Haws:what was it? 16 days?
Jared Bauman:Yeah, a
Spencer Haws:yeah, just over two weeks that ended up taking it to roll out. So if you compare those two time periods, I can give you a rough idea of traffic is up or down, right?
Jared Bauman:Yep. And so I don’t know about you. I don’t know if you even had time to look at niche pursuits and see if it was up or down. I know last week at this time it was up, right? But not huge in terms of how many
Jared Bauman:gains it had.
Spencer Haws:yeah, it was actually down a little bit last time I looked at it on last episode, I think. And I haven’t had a chance to because I just found out like 10 minutes ago that it finished. And so I’ll do like a full comparison here after. But, you know, today it looks like, you know, traffic is up a little bit maybe compared to like last week, right? So maybe I’m getting back to where I was. It looks like, you know, it’s not a major impact from what I can see. basically flat probably overall, but I will confirm that to make sure. So not, I haven’t seen any huge fluctuations on any, any of my sites. I was looking at, of course, niche pursuits, but you know, a couple others that are smaller and so, so I don’t have a big story to tell. Um, I know I have seen some scary looking screenshots, uh, from other people, but, um, so if you’re listening and you know, have a big update or any insight on. What. um, site was hit and maybe why it was hit or if you know anything, uh, let us know and, and you know, we can always talk about that and get more detailed on that.
Jared Bauman:I’m particularly interested, as I know a lot of people I’ve seen are interested in, just how the update, if it has any impact on AI content, predominantly, if they’re able to figure it out. I know you on Niche Pursuits have done some AI, heavily edited AI content,
Jared Bauman:right? And,
Jared Bauman:you know, so by all accounts, it sounds like did just fine during this update and stuff. Haven’t seen anything that suggests that AI content was you know, targeted specifically or in some way in a superior fashion in this update.
Spencer Haws:Right, yeah, I was actually just looking at this morning because I have a way, using rank logic,
Spencer Haws:I can show which of my articles were written by AI. And so I did look at that. I don’t see any major impact there and checked a couple of my bigger keywords. They’re still ranking number one in Google. I just looked at those like five minutes ago. And so, no, it doesn’t appear to be like targeting AI content from what I can see or what I’m hearing. So. So there is that.
Jared Bauman:Let us know in the comments. I mean, you know, we only look at a subset of sites, so let us know how your site performed and if you see anything trending.
Spencer Haws:Yep, absolutely. So the other big news that I just saw late last night, actually, as I was just kind of scrolling through some news, is that, well, it’s a New York Times article that basically says the first monopoly trial of the modern Internet area starts basically Tuesday, and it the US is setting its sights on Google. So This is a case that was actually brought like three years ago, but it’s finally going to trial and so it’s finally happening here in just a few days next week on Tuesday. So this is a monopoly trial and that’s a huge deal. If you look at the history of monopoly trials, there was AT&T back in the mid 80s that had to break up into like seven different companies. There was Microsoft that… um, had to adjust some of its practices, you know, in the nineties and, you know, there’s been other, of course, monopoly trials that either need to break up companies or dramatically shift how certain companies operate. And so, uh, will that happen to Google? Well, we’ll see. This is one of those things that says it’s a 10 week trial. It begins Tuesday. Um, and it, yeah, it’s targeting Google. And this is one of those things that I imagine. is going to be either live streamed or there’s gonna be lots of videos that are talked about. This probably will be all over the headlines next week once the trial actually begins. So this is something to keep your eye on. A couple of things that it’s actually focused on, I read the New York Times article here and a lot of it. Okay, so here’s, here’s actually the paragraph I lucked out the case centers on whether Google illegally cemented its dominance and squash competition by paying Apple and other companies to make its internet search engine, the default on the iPhone as well as on other devices and platforms. Right. So was that an illegal practice to basically not allow any other search engine to be used by default? Right. And so there’s going to be a lot of nuance here. I think a lot of. browser usage, computer usage, phone usage. Google is always the default. It’s preloaded on those phones or computers or devices. And is that an illegal competitive advantage? Is that a monopolistic behavior? And so that’s kind of what it centers on, but of course it touches on so many other things. Does that other search engines in DuckDuckGo, Bing, you name it. Um, should they have done better? Did Google, you know, illegally sort of dominate the marketplace?
Jared Bauman:This is a big deal. I mean, I’m not a lawyer, and I’m certainly not a legal expert by any stretch. So I don’t understand what precedent would be for something like this. But to my knowledge, I don’t think there is precedent, which is what makes it such a big deal. I read in there basically that the outcome of this trial could, and this is the word, could set precedent for how antitrust laws apply to these modern tech giants, like Apple and Meta and Google. So these antitrust laws, I found this interesting as I read the article to prepare for this. These antitrust laws were put together in the 1890s. You can imagine they’re a bit outdated for
Jared Bauman:what modern tech companies are doing. And there really hasn’t been anything brought to suit about this since, like you said, 1998 in Microsoft. Well, 1998, that was a lifetime ago. We didn’t even have a smartphone yet,
Jared Bauman:I don’t think. So like, man, it’s really hard to understand which way it’s gonna go because I don’t think anything that we’ve seen the Justice Department weigh in on for darn near 25 years now. Who the heck knows where this is going to go?
Spencer Haws:Yeah, it’s interesting because you know, when you look at it, it’s like, is Google a monopoly? Well, they control 90% of all the search traffic on the Internet.
Jared Bauman:Kind of.
Spencer Haws:You know, it kind of feels like they’re the only player in town. But did they do anything illegal to cement that spot as the as the front runner? Right. Google’s going to argue that, hey, our products are just better. You get better results when you come to Google. And as a customer, as a user, all of us probably agree. That’s why we use Google, right? We do, if accidentally we end up on yahoo.com for our search, we probably go over to Google, right? I know I’ve done that. You know, we have computers in the house that for some reason, somebody installed Yahoo as the default, right? Like accidentally.
Jared Bauman:Oh boy.
Spencer Haws:And so when that happens, like, oh no, let’s go over to Google, right? And so I’m making that choice in that switch, but. Um, so it’s, uh, it’s going to be an interesting trial. You know, I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Uh, the bigger question that if we can tie this to bloggers and niche site builders, like, will this impact us? I don’t know, right? Are less people going to start stop? Are less people going to be using Google because Google has to split off certain divisions, right? There’s going to be a search division and then I got split off something else. They’re maps and into a whole different companies. I don’t know. I don’t know if, if that will really change fundamentally how we do anything, but maybe it’s a, maybe it’s a good thing, right? Hey, if you’re not performing well in Google, maybe you’re going to start doing well in duck, go, and they’re going to have more traffic as a result. At the end of the day, we’ll see.
Jared Bauman:It’s hard to know. I mean, I think from what we saw in the press with the Justice Department several years ago, a lot of, and please, if I’m wrong, just correct me, because I might be wrong on this. This is like three years ago memory here kicking in. But I think a lot of it was also related to the connection with the ads team, to the search team, to the Chrome team, to the privacy concerns, and how all that data kind of relates together too. on their own, like you said, a lot of this is pretty, I use Google search because it’s the best search browser available, but when I’m also, when I’m using Google search, I’m also giving them a lot of data that they then use for other things, and so a lot of it’s more interconnected than perhaps we as bloggers
Jared Bauman:probably really put together, and probably for a lot of people.
Spencer Haws:Right. I mean, you do have to think about companies like MapQuest that just, I have to imagine don’t really exist anymore because Google Maps is, is clearly embedded and default and pushed and suggested first when you’re on Google. Right. So is that an illegal practice? Right. To like, you know, if you type some sort of directional query directly into Google, they just pull up Google Maps, right? Like automatically.
Jared Bauman:I thought Safari was the default on iPhones. So, man, I must have missed out on getting Google Chrome as my default internet browser on my iPhone.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, well, was it the browser or just search engine, right? Like, um,
Jared Bauman:Oh, that’s
Jared Bauman:it’s talking
Jared Bauman:about. Okay.
Spencer Haws:is the
Jared Bauman:it’s not.
Jared Bauman:They go
Jared Bauman:to Chrome.
Spencer Haws:you search something you it
Jared Bauman:I mean,
Spencer Haws:safari searches
Jared Bauman:Okay. That’s
Jared Bauman:it. Thank you.
Jared Bauman:It’s always
Jared Bauman:to have
Jared Bauman:a moron moment live on air. So.
Spencer Haws:No, that’s all right. We can edit that out, but probably won’t
Jared Bauman:won’t, let’s be honest.
Spencer Haws:um But uh, but yeah, I think there’s a couple different trials and again, we are both not legal experts This one I think is focusing on, you know, certain aspects. And then I think there’s another trial that’s still pending
Jared Bauman:thing we know, it’s that Google is always in the news for legal issues, which
Jared Bauman:we might have another one to talk about if we have time today.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, you know, we might as well at least touch on it for 30 seconds here that, yeah, you know, in the Europe, European Union, Google is not loved as well. And so there is this just recent sort of update that Google was designated as a gatekeeper under EU rules. And what does this mean? This whole article is about that. But basically, under the DMA act, it’s very similar that A gatekeeper, these are companies that maybe have a bunch of different products that kind of like we were just talking, right? They show you Google map because they also own it. They give preference to whatever other product they have, right? These gatekeeper companies. So Google needs to give more choice, give more freedom for other companies to compete, right? And so the DMA kind of, yeah, just seeks to improve the competition. And Google is like the focus of the EU right now.
Jared Bauman:I think the only thing that’s different about this, because like you said, it’s so similar in what it’s going after, but the only difference here is that this has been decided upon, and so now Google does have to change, whereas with the US anti-trust situation, it’s still going to court and that sort of thing.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, yeah, good point there. One of them, if I recall here, is that on devices, there could be multiple app stores, right? Instead of just Google Play on Android, there might be other app stores that pop up. And you don’t have to use Google Play. You can use whatever third party store that there might be. So there’s gonna be more flexibility there in the EU at least. on devices and things that are happening there. And this is a little bit broader as well. It includes advertising, app stores, default apps, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, right? So Google is again in hot water. I think we’re gonna see this in the news a lot next week. Like I said, there’s probably gonna be YouTube live streams and court commentary and all that sort of fun stuff. So buckle up, it could be a fun next week.
Jared Bauman:I can’t wait to see what sort of, we’ll call them funny, and I’ll maybe also add the word ignorant questions come up about some of Google’s stuff from the various people in Congress or whoever’s running this
Spencer Haws:there were some fun ones with Facebook last
Spencer Haws:time a couple years
Spencer Haws:And so we can hope for that fingers crossed that we get. So we get some things to chat about on that one. So make us sound smarter than maybe our congressmen. We’ll see. So
Jared Bauman:Finally, finally.
Spencer Haws:yeah. So another kind of kind of fun one here, actually, that you found is that YouTube is making it easier for creators to choose the perfect thumbnail. So basically. YouTube is coming out with a A-B testing tool integrated within YouTube. Right now they’re just testing this capability. Right now when you upload a video to YouTube, you can upload a custom thumbnail or you can have YouTube automatically select a random sort of timestamp throughout
Jared Bauman:Not a good
Spencer Haws:video, which is not a good idea. You want a custom thumbnail
Jared Bauman:It’s always,
Spencer Haws:for sure.
Jared Bauman:you know, frozen with your mouth open or something.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, it’s almost never the right moment. But this is called test and compare feature. It’s only a few hundred users that are trialing it, but YouTube hopes to launch it next year. And so what it allows you to do is this really grainy screenshot allows you to upload three custom thumbnails and then YouTube will automatically test behind the scenes. uh, to see which one gets like a higher click through rate or engagement. And, uh, that, uh, you know, obviously could, could help your video do a lot better. Um, there are some third party tools, uh, right now that do allow you to kind of AB test. But from what I’ve heard from other YouTubers is that it’s, it’s pretty limited and it’s not a true AB test. It kind of like allows you to run it for a week or two weeks. And then you can switch to another one for a week or two weeks. And you kind of. compare this, I think will be more real time and, and because it’s controlled by, by YouTube, it’s going to be a lot more effective, I would think.
Jared Bauman:I found this to be very interesting on a number of levels. First and foremost, it’s about time. I mean, as a, you know, running an agency that does a lot of email marketing for various companies and at my last company we sent out almost a million emails a year from our email marketing platform. And I can tell you that most of these email marketing platforms give you the ability to automatically A-B test your subject lines. You put in two subject lines. And I’m going to say almost 90% of the time, one of them is a clear, outright winner over the other. And it always shocks me how dramatically different the results can be. And so we know that thumbnails and what you do with a thumbnail can be significant and create significant amounts of change and intrigue and click through rate and all that kind of stuff. So it’s about time that YouTube does this and it makes our platform better, you know? The more enticing and intriguing the thumbnails, the better. Now here’s what I’m interested in, kind of my second point is we know that the way the YouTube algorithm works, a lot of how your video does has to do with its performance, especially in the beginning, the first,
Jared Bauman:I don’t know, one, two, 12, 24 hours. And so if you’re out there kind of testing, A, B, testing different thumbnails, I’m just curious how YouTube, how that’s gonna affect the way that they, uh, run their algorithm and base their decision. Like what if I have two thumbnails and one is really bad and one’s really good, but I get judged by my video quality thus dictating where I end up in the algorithm overall based on my A B test of a bad th- anyways, I’m getting really nerdy, but I’m really intrigued by this.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, yeah. I think it’s gonna be a win overall for YouTubers, right? Like you said, you can test out a lot of different either subject lines or thumbnails, and it’s not always the one you thought it was gonna be, right? You might try something just totally different out there, right? And that could be the one, something that you never tried before. And so we’ll see. I will be curious. Hopefully it’s early next year, right? Hopefully it’s just a few months from now, and we don’t have to wait 12 months from now or something. But yeah, exciting kind of update coming. So with that, I think we covered all the news that we were gonna cover if I’m correct here. So let’s jump into our shiny object shenanigans. So I’ll go ahead and go first. We’ve been talking, oh, I don’t know. It feels like every other week or so, we kind of were talking about the Amazon Influencer program and I felt like, hey, I’ll bring this up again. I know I chatted about it last week. I mentioned that I had hired four local people to help me review products. People that live in my city, it’s kind of cool. Got to have them in person do some training, all of that. Well, I have an update there. I actually hired two more, so I have a total of six. Actually just hired the sixth one last night. And so I’m up to six people now. They’re not all fully up and running. A couple of the newer ones. Haven’t actually done a video yet, but I’m getting them set up. I expect by the end of this week, they’ll be up and running. Um, but, uh, kind of cool. Just, just a fun little update. Um, I am now up to 453 videos total,
Spencer Haws:uh, on the platform. I think last week I was like three 75
Jared Bauman:That’s what
Jared Bauman:I was gonna
Jared Bauman:say. Yeah, something like that in the 300s, the high 300s.
Spencer Haws:Yeah. So it was like another 75 plus videos. Um, I will say that I found a batch of like 40 or 50 almost videos that had been kind of submitted, um, that we just hadn’t added to the, to the platform yet. So that’s part of it. It wasn’t all these six new employees all of a sudden recorded 75 videos. Um,
Jared Bauman:I was gonna
Jared Bauman:say, you got him out of the gate crankin’.
Spencer Haws:yeah, no, I wish, but, uh, they are starting to record more, more videos. And, uh, I’m kind of, I mean, clearly I’m kind of going all in, if you will, on the Amazon influencer program. You know, I’m not afraid to share my results, good or bad here. So I’m going to go ahead and share a screenshot actually of where I’m at currently, my earnings. So I think I removed any personally identifiable information on this,
Jared Bauman:We’ll know if you didn’t.
Spencer Haws:but they’ll let me know. Yeah. This is just my earnings over the last 30 days. I will just say that August was a down month. Kind of these days that you’re seeing, man, I was earning 30, 40, $50 a day for the first two thirds of the month. Not great, right? So my earnings is at $1,583.59 over the last 30 days, but you can clearly see that at about the 29th of August and on, I’m earning quite a bit more. Um, 90 to a hundred dollars is much closer to the average here, right? I think yesterday was 70 or something, right? So 70, 80, $90, uh, on average. So, uh, I’m, I’m hoping in September, right? I’m $2,500, uh, for the month instead of the $1,500, uh, for August. So, uh, things are trending up and I only see that improving as I continue to add more and more videos. So. Um, that’s pretty much my update. Oh, one other thing related to Amazon influencer. Um, I am now taking all of these videos and putting them on YouTube. I did create a YouTube channel and have
Spencer Haws:uploaded the first maybe dozen, uh, videos. Like I said, I’ve got 453 videos to upload. Um, the first dozen or so are up there. And, uh, so I’ll provide more updates in the coming weeks. That’s going to take a little while to get that all done and uploaded, but basically all I’m going to do is upload. the videos in the description. I have a one liner, but basically says, hey, if you want to get the product, click here. It’ll be my affiliate link to Amazon. And that’s about it for now. I’m gonna just get all the content out there and kind of see what happens.
Jared Bauman:I am so curious to see how that goes. It’s been on my list to do, because you’re sitting on all this content.
Jared Bauman:And obviously, I wouldn’t say made for YouTube, but certainly no problems putting on YouTube. And Amazon’s very clear that that’s OK and whatnot. So yeah, my chart, my graph, whatever you want to call it, looks fairly similar to yours. August was not a good month. I actually made a YouTube video going through all that. And it’s going to come out Saturday. and goes
Jared Bauman:through all my earnings and screenshots and you know all that jazz and stuff and but very similar very down month a lot of theories and reasons why potentially but September is looking significantly better I don’t know if somebody just turned on all the influencer videos or if everybody’s buying again or maybe a combination of both but yeah
Spencer Haws:Yeah. So, um, if it’s okay with you, Jared, I actually have a second sort of topic. I thought I’d squeeze in here,
Spencer Haws:um, that, uh, I think fits best in, in this, you know, shiny object, shenanigans portion of the show here. Uh, so another thing I’ve been talking about doing for a long time is, um, recruiting other people to kind of start their own side hustle, right? Kind of figure out What’s a little niche online business, whether it’s Amazon Influence or a faceless YouTube channel, something else that I can get a bunch of people to do, can kind of motivate them to do that and then share all of those results, either through YouTube or through the podcast here and kind of, yeah, just gather some learnings from the community and hopefully just get people excited about starting something and doing something. So I recently polled my audience. I put together a list of, I’m gonna share this, but it’s maybe a dozen ideas that I kind of put together that I thought would be interesting to watch somebody build, right? If I can get 10 or 20 people to kind of build this and all publicly share the results, wouldn’t that be fun to watch for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, a year, whatever? And so that’s the nugget of the idea. I surveyed my audience, I put this on social media and out in my email list. I’ve got 505 responses so far on this, and you can clearly see that there are two ideas that are rising to the top. And the first one should not really come as a surprise. This is build an SEO site with AI-generated content. So my audience is primarily people building niche sites and doing SEO, so it’s not much of a surprise that people would be interested in seeing that. That’s got 42% of the vote. And then the other one is start a no-face YouTube channel with 38% of the vote. Um, but a couple of others that are, that are close would be starting ebook business with either original or AI generated content, and then it looks like, uh, selling digital downloads on Etsy is kind of the next one. But, uh, if you’re looking at the screen here, you can see a few of the other ideas. I’m going to keep this survey open for. Uh, over the weekend until Monday, I’m going to close it on Monday. So I’ll put this survey in the description on YouTube or the podcast. If people want to add their vote, uh, I am going to take the top one. And if I’m honest, I’m going to probably start doing these, like starting a new one every month. Uh, and so the second and the third and the fourth pick will eventually get done. It might just take several months. Um, but if you add your vote. And I’m going to take the top pick. And then, like I said, I’m not necessarily personally going to build a site with AI generated content, but I’m going to get a bunch of people that are interested in doing that. We’re going to do a call together. I’m going to kind of kick it off, get people motivated and excited to do it. And then I’m going to do ongoing calls, whether that’s once a month, maybe bring on an expert in AI, right? That they can get a little bit of coaching from, and this is going to be of course free, the, the only payment. is that I’m going to ask that you sort of document your results and share it with the audience so that I can kind of share the findings as well. So anyways, it’s going to be a fun experiment. I don’t know if it really is a side hustle per se, because this is for niche pursuits, so call it my main hustle if you want. But that’s what I’m working on. That’s what I’m excited about. And survey results are kind of fun to look at and follow along.
Jared Bauman:I think I’m gonna go vote for the Amazon return palette idea. It needs some love.
Spencer Haws:need some love.
Jared Bauman:clearly was not a winner with anyone. I don’t know why, it sounds so unique. I didn’t even thought about that.
Spencer Haws:I wanna see somebody do it,
Spencer Haws:so, you know, I can always just say, you know what, it didn’t get all the votes, maybe I’ll do it anyways, but it won’t be the
Spencer Haws:one we
Jared Bauman:to do the one with the lowest votes, and you
Jared Bauman:can have other people do the ones with the highest votes.
Spencer Haws:Okay punishment
Jared Bauman:Yeah, yeah, you had a bad idea. Now you got to do it.
Spencer Haws:I Had a bad idea I shouldn’t have put this so I go give it a shot I like that
Jared Bauman:fun, that’s fun. It reminds me a bit of some of the niche site projects which are very successful, popular, and people loved to this day.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, that’s exactly where the idea came from. Of course, is these niche site projects. So I, I’ve been trying to think, how can I do niche site projects without like halting everything in my business? Right. Uh, I don’t have time to spend two or three hours a day on a new website or a new project, right? Cause I have plenty as we discuss here each week. Uh, but I would, I would love to, uh, still be doing those projects. And I think this is a happy medium. without me having to do all the work, I can do 10% of the work and still have lots of results to share and hopefully get the community excited and involved. So yes, that’s, that is the idea.
Jared Bauman:So share the results next week. We’ll get to find out the results. Good, hopefully we.
Spencer Haws:Absolutely. Yep. On Monday, I plan to start to close this and pick a winner and share the results for sure next week.
Jared Bauman:Well, you never know.
Jared Bauman:It’s like an election. Things could swing in the final hours here, especially when you announce it here on the podcast. Maybe
Jared Bauman:the weekend
Spencer Haws:exactly right.
Jared Bauman:will bring
Jared Bauman:change, and we’ll be looking at some different ones. But yeah, you’re right. Clear in a way right now, that SEO site with AI is probably is definitely a popular one.
Spencer Haws:Yep, absolutely. So with that, I’ll let you take the floor here and talk about your shiny object that you’re working on.
Jared Bauman:Yeah, well, you know, last week I shared about how I kind of went nuts on making videos for the Amazon Influencer program. Now I did say I think that I was going to try to stay at about 30 a week and still keep making them. So I did hit 29 videos.
Jared Bauman:So that’s good. Nice that I didn’t burn myself out too much.
Jared Bauman:And motivating to see that September seems to be going really well. And you know, you and I were talking off air about how… Just exciting is to see what Q4 looks like, because really a lot of this, since we got going on it in the springtime, is one thing. But as we all know, in the Amazon world, it’s all about Q4, and specifically from Black Friday to sometime mid to late December. So that’s exciting. That’s fun. This week, for me, in terms of side hustles, I focused on YouTube. And I focused on the Weekend Growth YouTube account, which has always been… a very low priority, so it truly fits in the, it’s like the side hustle of weekend growth, which is a side hustle for me, so it’s like the
Spencer Haws:you go.
Jared Bauman:it’s like pretty layered down in terms of priorities. But, you know, got four videos created, one of them, Spencer, I think you’ll be curious to know about, I made a tutorial about how we use Link Whisper.
Spencer Haws:Good choice.
Jared Bauman:You might have heard of that plugin before.
Spencer Haws:I have.
Jared Bauman:I really like it, so you should give it a shot sometime. Did an overview of the month three on Amazon Influencer program, which was August, and then did two additional videos that’ll come and release in the coming weeks and stuff. So I’ve got four videos in the bank, and just the overall publishing of that tutorial video, plus some buzz and all that. So we’re over 800 subscribers now, still a very small number. Watch hours just broke 1,000 watch hours since the account was started, I think, in May. So nowhere near monetization from the 1,000 subscriber, 3,000 watch hours it’s needed to add ads, per se. But I’m going to give it a go. I am going to put some more effort towards it, because I do feel like crossing that 1,000. Um, our Mark was a little bit motivating and stuff, but man, YouTube content is so hard. I don’t even do it that well. Like I don’t do all the crazy, really involved stuff on YouTube and it’s still so hard to create. So hats off to everyone doing a YouTube channel. Uh, it’s, it’s tough work. It’s a grind.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, it is. It’s involved. It’s a lot of work. But congrats. I mean, you’re inching closer to the thousand subscriber mark. And I mean, it’s clear that you’re putting a lot of effort into your videos, right? Creating the content and everything. And so it’s a bit of a grind, but it’s one of those things that once the snowball starts turning, if you can be consistent, like it just continues to build. So.
Jared Bauman:Spencer, I can see there. You have seen the little bit of the link whisper video.
Spencer Haws:I did indeed,
Jared Bauman:It’s an hour
Jared Bauman:long. That’s my other problem. I mean, man, I just can’t make a short YouTube video. I don’t know what you put a mic in for my face and I feel like it must be a podcast. I gotta go an hour or something. So that’s gotta be a problem too.
Spencer Haws:You know, for the YouTube algorithm, right, for it to go viral, you know, an hour long one probably isn’t gonna go viral, right? But it hits on the core audience, can give them the training or the tips and the strategies that they want and they need, right? We do that here, right? We talk for an hour on the podcast and the core audience loves it, right? Because they want the more in-depth information, so.
Jared Bauman:I have published a number of shorts over the last week or two, and I’m happy to report live in front of everyone that that’s gone terribly. And sorry they got any fusing. I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong or something, but that’s not gone well either. So I have not cracked the shorts code either.
Spencer Haws:Yeah. Well, good job for sticking with it. You know, like I said, you’re getting close to that 1,000 subscriber mark. Get the four-figure followers.
Jared Bauman:I’d be
Jared Bauman:nice. Yeah,
Spencer Haws:the big one.
Jared Bauman:I’d be nice. Now here’s, I’m gonna just throw this out at you and then we can move on. But I had a thought, I was talking with my wife, I don’t know, over the weekend. We had a drive, we went out of town for a little bit. And you know what I realized? Early days, but if this account keeps growing, I could use it to qualify for a second Amazon influencer account.
Spencer Haws:Mmm, you could.
Jared Bauman:I don’t know how that worked. Do I tie it to maybe my wife’s Amazon account or something? Maybe she would do it with, I don’t know. Just
Jared Bauman:thinking out loud. I mean, it just kind of occurred to me. Could I have two influencer accounts?
Spencer Haws:and what in the world would you do with a second one?
Jared Bauman:I don’t know. I guess review the same products and compete with myself. I
Jared Bauman:don’t know.
Spencer Haws:you go. Yeah, just make sure somebody else reviews them all
Spencer Haws:instead of you.
Jared Bauman:gotta be somebody else. I’d
Spencer Haws:You could.
Jared Bauman:have to adopt your mentality of hiring some people
Spencer Haws:a team, try
Spencer Haws:that out.
Jared Bauman:man, so I don’t know. Just got my brain going.
Spencer Haws:The wheels are always turning good. I like it. So with that, let’s go ahead and jump into our weird niche site. So each of us have one weird niche site that we found. I’ll go ahead and go first here. I will say that this, I believe was shared by somebody in the audience weeks ago, weeks ago. So I had it on my idea spreadsheet. I had sort of skipped over it for a couple of weeks, but I’m coming back. And and we’re gonna do it. So this site is HTTP status dogs calm HTTP status dogs calm so if I share my screen You can see what it’s all about here. It’s kind of just a fun cute funny Website that you know all the HTTP status codes that exist, you know 200 201 404 400 all of them have pictures of dogs that kind of go with What the status means, right? So you’ve got 206 is partial content it’s got a dog with one leg 207 is a multi status. It’s the picture of twin dogs Boy
Spencer Haws:308 is what do we got? Permanent redirect,
Spencer Haws:you know, yeah, there you go a statue of a dog You know payment required 402 a dog with money there’s a few other good ones
Jared Bauman:or 17, I like.
Spencer Haws:What’s 417 here expectation failed a dog failing to fetch The thing for 413 request entity too large And if you click on it, this is with a massive dog, right? Way larger than a human here. It gives you a little bit more detail. The request is larger than the server is willing or able to process. And so it’s kind of just a fun website if you’re ever confused about, hey, what’s this status code? What does this mean? Well, now you can go to http statusdogs.com and it will tell you exactly what it means. And… I don’t know, maybe some of these pictures will help you memorize. These could be flashcards of like, okay, what’s a 410? What’s a 404? What’s a 400? And you just remember the picture of the dog and then you’ll know. This particular site, it says that it was inspired by HTTP status cats. And so I did visit that one. And this is just a Flickr account or an album. That is essentially the same thing with cats.
Jared Bauman:I was gonna say…
Spencer Haws:So, you know, it’s a bunch of pictures with cats. And so the status dogs really just took the cats, made it dogs, and put it on its own URL to make it an official website. This is just as good, you know, with a bunch of cats. Method not allowed. 405 is George W. Bush trying to eat a kitten, it appears. So method not allowed on that one. And so this could be fun. You can check it out. And to give a shout out to a Girly Mac, I believe it was, that came up clearly with the original idea. Oh, I’ve lost the website now. Here we are. You know, Girly Mac, she is on Twitter and she actually calls out that, hey, she’s the status cats author, right? So that is, you know, that is one of her claims to fame. So at some point this went viral. Um, the status dogs website itself does not get much traffic anymore for a while. You know, he’s getting, I don’t know, 20 or 30,000 visitors a month. I think it’s maybe a thousand or so, uh, visitors a month. So it’s not making money. In fact, there’s, there’s no ads or anything on the website. It’s just a fun, it’s just what we like to call a weird niche site. So.
Jared Bauman:Fun little fact Spencer, if you go click on the 201 image there and you can see a little bit more, that is the origin story of the name of my marketing agency.
Spencer Haws:Ah 201 creative
Jared Bauman:Yep, that’s where it comes from. The request
Jared Bauman:been fulfilled
Jared Bauman:and resulted in a new resource being created. Basically,
Spencer Haws:I like it.
Jared Bauman:what we do for clients.
You know, I had always wondered where that came from. I was thinking, oh, it’s an area code or something, you know,
Jared Bauman:of, you know, makes you think, right? Kind of throws you off, you just don’t really know which way to go. That’s who I am, I like to make you think.
Spencer Haws:I wasn’t smart enough. I like it though. So there you go, 201 creative, harkens to the status code of 201. So.
Jared Bauman:And in some very loose way, we are connected to HTTP status dogs as well, I suppose.
Spencer Haws:That’s right. So anyways, that’s that was my find for the week. Maybe not as Making as much money as some of the others, but still just as fun
Jared Bauman:When I first saw that on the agenda, just as we started recording, you know, I just briefly saw it, but we were live. I thought maybe it was another hot dog website. We were going to get a second
Jared Bauman:hot dog. Cause we had the, what was it, the Costco hot dog website?
Spencer Haws:Yes, one of the originals, the Costco hot dog.
Jared Bauman:different dogs here than that one.
Spencer Haws:Real dogs.
Jared Bauman:That’s fun.
Spencer Haws:Very good. Let’s see what you got for your niche site here today.
Jared Bauman:Ah yes, sticking with the fun theme, the website I brought forward today is cornify.com and this is a Unicorn and Rainbow’s on-demand website.
Spencer Haws:On Demand!
Jared Bauman:On-demand, hold yourself if you’re watching on YouTube where you’re about to be inundated with very bright, vibrant graphics. This is a website that embraces everything that you could imagine when it comes to unicorns. Started poking around. When looking for a weird niche site my daughter just got a new sweater She’s seven and it’s just covered in unicorns pink purple and everything every other color on the on the spectrum I feel like so um I thought there’s got to be a website out there about unicorns I landed on this one so a couple things you can do here you can Color your favorite unicorn As a matter of fact you can just start clicking buttons and unicorn up your whole browser So that’s the
Jared Bauman:first thing you can do
Jared Bauman:I mean I
Jared Bauman:you started
Jared Bauman:do that
Spencer Haws:I click, the more unicorns pop up.
Jared Bauman:the more unicorns you get, they just stick with you. So you could just keep those unicorns as you browse the internet. So if you’re just needing, you know, a little pick me up, just bounce around the internet with some unicorns all over your screen.
Spencer Haws:Oh, they’re gonna stick with me.
Jared Bauman:Yeah. The,
Spencer Haws:Oh dear. Ha ha.
Jared Bauman:it’s a little ridiculous. So you can make your own unicorn. You can see other unicorns. They have the Rainbow Blog. Doodly themed, do you like happiness? Yes, we do. Let’s cornify the world together and spread eternal. sparkly happiness. So they actually have a lot going on here, I will say. There’s
Jared Bauman:there, you know, in terms of the actual website itself, and some of the things that we would be most interested in, there is a store, and there is all sorts of unicorn stuff that you can buy, and it does go to Amazon listings, so it must be that they’ve just got out and sourced everything unicorn and thrown an affiliate code on it. But there’s
Spencer Haws:Got the
Spencer Haws:magical unicorn taco holder.
Jared Bauman:There’s a unicorn
Spencer Haws:kind of
Jared Bauman:There’s all sorts of stuff, right? Boy, if I scanned
Jared Bauman:enough, I could probably find my daughter’s sweater on here.
Jared Bauman:Now, in terms of traffic, it does not do very well, unfortunately.
Jared Bauman:434 keywords, Ahrefs is estimated under 1,000 monthly organic page views. Here’s the thing, though. It’s a DR57.
Spencer Haws:Wow, nice.
Jared Bauman:So. Ugh. either sitting on a gold mine here, or a unicorn mine, I suppose.
Spencer Haws:A rainbow mine.
Spencer Haws:Absolutely. So do they have, what type of content do they have? Besides look, right? We kind of went over, you can do coloring, they got a gallery, they’ve got a shop. Do they have any other sort of content?
Jared Bauman:Yeah, so they say that they have this blog. And when you go look at what’s actually ranking pretty well, they do have something called a unicorn name generator. So I don’t know if you’d call that a page or a blog post, but you can basically say, what’s the first letter of your name, what month are you born in, and you can go generate your unicorn name. Mine, because my first name is Jared. And I was born in August. My unicorn name is Cupcake Cornyhorn. So just thought I’d share that. That’s
Spencer Haws:Alright, cupcake!
Jared Bauman:about doing that ranks on the blog there.
Spencer Haws:I’m getting distracted, I’m coloring a unicorn right now, so…
Jared Bauman:You are good atmosphere.
Spencer Haws:Yeah! I’ll go away from that, but… So they do have a blog somewhere, supposedly, huh?
Jared Bauman:Yeah, supposedly they’d have a blog. I didn’t poke around it too much, but that is what they say.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, with the DR57, maybe there’s some other type of content that you could use to get more SEO traffic. It doesn’t really appear that they’ve tapped into that too well. It’s mostly a shareable, viral type site, right? If people share it with you, you go check it out.
Jared Bauman:Here’s something we talk about in the podcast. Not quite a bit, but it comes up like, hey, they have done what a lot of people, a lot of our guests come on and talk about. They have a page, Spencer, I will drop it. We talked last week about how, yes, we actually do have a, we actually do have a doc that we work off of, if you can believe it. I
Jared Bauman:know that we don’t sound very organized, but we’re more organized than you think. But they have a unicorn facts page, which is. wonderful for building links. We know fax pages
Spencer Haws:we go.
Jared Bauman:really well.
Jared Bauman:so whether they stumbled upon it by accident, just because it was fun, or whether they actually did it on purpose, now I will say that in this case, it’s not contributing much to their DR57. There are no backlinks here. But I think it’s also because it’s nowhere to be found on their homepage or any pages that actually get traffic. So. But
Jared Bauman:even this website that doesn’t seem to be having a big focus on search is doing some of the things that people recommend.
Spencer Haws:Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, I agree. There could be some improvements on link structure, right? Site structure to kind of, I can’t even get to their footer, right? I just keep scrolling. Anyways.
Jared Bauman:I think each of those loads is images. If I go look at top pages in Ahrefs again, it’s like 200, how many did I say here? Oh, it was like two or 300 pages, which this is not, yeah, 268 pages. And a lot of them are just these random images with poor site,
Jared Bauman:you know, poor URL structure and all that. So.
Spencer Haws:Okay, here we go on the about page, since its memorable launch on Hacker News on January 31st, 2009.
Jared Bauman:Oh, it’s been around a while.
Spencer Haws:Quornify has provided over 400 million unicorns and rainbows to its beloved community. So it clearly got off with a bang, it sounds like, and it’s still just kinda hanging around and not getting quite as much traffic, but.
Jared Bauman:is not to cut you off you go to the footer it’s by germany’s best kept secret is what it says in the foot and so uh… you know we just got done basically talking about how this is a very poorly designed site right like we can come all agree on that well apparently it’s i feel bad down for the car live but created by somebody who specializes in and as a company in ux design
Spencer Haws:And this website looks a lot nicer
Jared Bauman:It looks
Spencer Haws:I will
Spencer Haws:say But maybe
Spencer Haws:the unicorn site
Spencer Haws:what it was in 2009
Jared Bauman:Or, you know what, Spencer, we might not, I’m just gonna offer that we might not be the target audience of that unicorn website, you know?
Jared Bauman:I don’t
Jared Bauman:wanna speak
Spencer Haws:be right.
Jared Bauman:for you, of course, but you know, just
Spencer Haws:I haven’t
Jared Bauman:it out
Spencer Haws:before, so, but I also didn’t know it existed. So we’ll see if I go back.
Jared Bauman:Yeah, I agree.
Jared Bauman:This UX
Jared Bauman:site is very well designed, but the Unicorn
Spencer Haws:Mm hmm.
Jared Bauman:site has some stuff that could be worked on.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, yeah, so, um, good, fine. Digging into the archives of the internet basically, right? Back from 2009, this was quite the hit. I, I’m sure they’ve updated it since then, clearly. I mean, it looks like it, it still works, right? So.
Jared Bauman:Well, the Amazon products from what I saw were all in stock.
Jared Bauman:So it seems like somebody’s
Jared Bauman:at least, you know, making sure that the
Spencer Haws:on it.
Jared Bauman:up to date. So yeah.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, absolutely. Well, good one. We’ll just leave it at that. I don’t know what else to say about that site.
Jared Bauman:I don’t think our weird niches this week were models of success. I think they were more models of interesting, funny,
Jared Bauman:man, what could you do with that, but more on the fun lines.
Spencer Haws:Yeah, there could be somebody that just wants a passion project, right? There’s just something that gets you excited, gets you out of bed, uh, wants to do something interesting. You can build a site about it. Just build, build a site, build an itch site, whether or not it makes money. If it makes you happy, get you motivated to do something, go ahead and do that. That’s, that’s what
Spencer Haws:I have to say.
Jared Bauman:both had threads of virality going for them, right? We saw that too. So just because an idea might not be as monetizable doesn’t mean it can’t have the viral nature to it.
Spencer Haws:Yep, absolutely. Well, that wraps up this week in Niche Pursuits news. We’ve covered the news, we’ve covered our shiny objects, and we’ve covered our weird niche sites. And I will just give a plug for my own newsletter if you go to nichepursuits.com slash newsletter. This will be a timely one if you sign up by Monday, at least. That’s when I plan on announcing the results of this survey that I mentioned. And so if you take the survey, you can get the results on Monday in my newsletter. That’s where I’m gonna share the results first. Although you’ve gotten a sneak peek today on what that might be, but I’m gonna have a lot more information about, okay, now that we have the winning idea, what comes next? And that’s where it gets even more interesting. So I’ll tease that as well.
Jared Bauman:Go, pal, let’s
Spencer Haws:We need just, you know, another couple hundred people to vote for the ballots.
Jared Bauman:I’m campaigning for the pallets here. We got a long fight ahead of us, but we’re not out of it yet.
Spencer Haws:Let’s see what kind of weight you can throw around on that one, Jared. So
Jared Bauman:I don’t think I’m gonna throw much weight around.
Spencer Haws:good luck. Good luck. But everyone, thank you so much for listening to the news, to the podcast here, and hope everybody has a great weekend.
Jared Bauman:Have a great weekend.