When choosing a niche or simply measuring your business progress, it’s easy to focus on your total audience size.
We all want to have as big of an audience as possible. We see websites with hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors and think,
“Why couldn’t that be me? What am I doing wrong? My content is a lot better then theirs, and look how successful they are!”
This is a dangerous way to think, and can set you up for the wrong targets.
The reality is, it is possible to make 10x the income with an audience a fraction of the size, and it’s dependent on several different factors.
Let’s look over some of these now, and prove that audience size – for the most part, doesn’t matter when it comes to online business success.
Niches, Content, And The Value Of Each Visitor
To illustrate an extreme example, let’s look at two very different markets: video games, and business.
It is exceptionally easier to get Google clicks or YouTube views to gaming content. You could definitely get to 10,000 organic visitors a day on a gaming site far more quickly than you could get to even 1,000 visitors a day on a website targeting business owners.
If you take the numbers at face value, it would seem that the gaming site would appear more successful.
It isn’t until you look at the demographics and spending power do you realize how big the difference is here. To the gaming site, many of the visitors are kids with no disposable income. Even to adults, there are less opportunities available to monetize them.
(Remember, every content monetization strategy has its basis in a transaction happening somewhere – even if you monetize with display ads.)
Business owners on the other hand tend to be wealthier, spend much larger amounts of money, and there are much more opportunities to sell products and services to them – either yours, or promoting other people’s as an affiliate.
When a single visitor to your website can make you tens of thousands of dollars, each individual visitor becomes quite valuable on average – even if most people still end up spending nothing. This is why lawyers for example are willing to spend $30 or more for every single click to their website.
The difference in numbers isn’t just true on a niche level, but on a content level as well.
Content creators that publish content targeting buyer-intent topics – such as reviews about products, are likely to experience a higher return per visitor than those publishing purely informational content.
When a visitor consumes informational content, the next step is for them to end their search and go on with their lives.
When a visitor consumes buyer-intent content, the goal is that they’ll immediately purchase the product, book a consultation, start a free trial, etc – all things that increase the likelihood of money being exchanged.
In addition to your niche and the type of content you release, another major factor in determining the value of each visitor comes down to how your monetize.
Content monetization kind of works like a pyramid, both through blogging as well as releasing videos on YouTube.
Bottom: On the bottom, you monetize through something like display ads. These require the highest volume of people to make an effective living from, but the lowest amount of trust. You make money from people showing up and being exposed to ads, regardless of your relationship with that audience. It doesn’t matter if people only view a single page on your website as long as you have a steady stream of people coming in.
In this instance, you tend to need a higher volume of traffic – thousands of visitors daily to see any significant money. Ad revenue depends heavily on your niche as well – you may earn $2 per 1,000 visitors on a gaming site, but $40+ per thousand visitors in something like health or finance.
Middle: Affiliate marketing falls into this category. With monetization methods like affiliate marketing, you’ll make far more from a sale than you ever would with advertising. That being said, there needs to be some level of trust that the visitors have with you before they’re willing to buy anything, unless you target people who are already about to make their purchase.
Typically, this doesn’t require you to have any sort of ongoing relationship with the visitor, though this is beneficial. If your content is good enough and critiques the product fairly, or you’re able to present it in the best possible light, that visitor may go on to purchase without any additional reading necessary. The recognition and branding of the product you’re promoting carries a lot of weight already.
That being said, the affiliate marketers that make the most all work to build an audience they can reach out to again and again.
Top: Up at the top, we have high-ticket affiliates who specialize in selling expensive products, as well as companies selling their own products they’ve created. These marketers require a much higher degree of trust to make a sale, but when they do make that sale, they tend to keep a much higher percentage of it. It also becomes much easier to sell additional products or services to that customer again.
That is not to say that any one of these monetization models is better than the other. Selling your own products may require much less of an audience to make the same amount of money, but there is a lot more work that goes into building trust with that audience. Those looking for passive income may prefer something like display ads, using the time they would spend cultivating relationships to simply crank out more content.
Personally, I find the reward of selling products to be worth the time and skill necessary – particularly as so much of the process can be automated through systems.
For example, I have hundreds of pre-written emails in my autoresponder sequences, with sequences starting and stopping automatically based on user behavior. This was complicated to set up, but over time it turns email subscribers into buyers, and buyers into repeat purchasers.
In very profitable markets, where you are able to repeatedly contact the same sort of people, it becomes possible to make a full-time living with as little as 100 visitors a day – as long as a small percentage of those become email subscribers.
And for those that originally pursued a ‘high traffic, low profitability’ business model like display ads, introducing email marketing means you can build a massive list, very quickly – all without increasing traffic further or publishing new blog content.
Issues – And Solutions
We’ve already talked about two ways to maximize the value of each visitor – choose a more profitable niche, or focus on content that targets buyer-intent keywords.
The problem with this is that these both tend to be more competitive. There is a direct correlation between profit potential, and competition on those niches or articles.
Profitable reviews for example may require you to spend more time building links than actually writing content, which isn’t appealing to many people. I call this ‘The Competitive Link Builder Strategy‘ and some people build entire businesses around it.
Personally, it’s not for me.
I would much rather build up a massive email list, where I can provide value, build relationships and yes – promote targeted products to large groups of people at once.
Over the last 10 years, I have consistently found this to be the most powerful and profitable way to monetize an audience. Your list will grow over time as you naturally attract visitors, and you aren’t prone to Google updates or social media algorithms suppressing your content.
It is truly the best way to reach your audience over and over again, and actually have your message be delivered.
I put together a course specifically on building as large of a list as possible, and maximizing revenue from each subscriber.
The beauty in this strategy is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
On one hand, you could simply write an email and send it to your entire list at once when you have something to say. On the other, you can automate entire sequences – automatically promoting relevant products after subscribers have indicated interest in that subject, targeting the specific pain points or problems subscribers have indicated that they have.
When emails that you’ve written years ago are still making you consistent sales daily, it’s an incredible feeling.
I share everything I know about email marketing inside of my course, which you can find by clicking here.
It’s worth paying attention to your total number of visitors – but this isn’t the most important metric to track.
I’d take 1,000 visitors a day in a profitable market, over 10,000 visitors a day in one that isn’t so profitable.
Ultimately, what matters is the total amount of money that ends up in your pocket.
Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to maximize this number, even without changing niches or drastically altering your content strategy.
I hope that this article has been helpful for you. If there are any questions that I can answer, feel free to ask them in the comment form below.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Hi James, It does not make sense to have all those visitors if they are not going to come back, make a purchase, or sign up for email. Right? The old days traffic was everything, Today it's more about the ROI of a blog post or ad campaign. You make very good sense!
Lisa Sicard recently posted…Running A Digital Business; Basics That You Need To Understand
Thanks for sharing such an amazing article. I appreciate your critical thinking around this project. At some point I agree with you that there are many other factors which are responsible for online business success. So to say that large audience size matter a lot to succeed in business is not completely true.
All the factors explained by you in this post are very clear and simple to follow up. You are right that audience are important but not the most important metric to track, what matter is the amount earned by you from your business.
Great thought ! Keep sharing !
Hi James. Indeed it's always about the quality. You can't expect to get a hugh conversion rate if you target a broad audience who may not be interested with your offerings. Thanks for sharing this article.
Alexis rusty recently posted…How to Make Money on Blogging 2022
Hey James, thanks for sharing your perspective on this. Glad to see that someone is seeing this from a very different angle.
Talking about traffic value, i think it's absolutely important to pay attention to the value generated by a specific audience, over the size of the audience however i also understand people sometimes look at other metrics. For example, the so-called vanity metrics. It still plays some role in defining the success or value of a business platform, in some cases.
Personally I love to say that this choice will always depend on one's business goal per time. For example, If you're more focused on the vanity metrics for advertising purposes, you can always highlight and pay attention to expanding your audience as much as possible.
On the other hand, if your goal is to drive a sizeable but highly engaging audience, you can always focus on that. In a nutshell, while one must focus on the size of traffic will drive their overall goals at the same time, one has to always be conscious of the danger of pursuing the two goals at same time, without achieving any of them.