If you read through my blogposts, you’ll notice that sometimes I refer to sites as blogs and sometimes I refer to them as niche sites.
The question I’ve been receiving quite often lately is, “What’s the difference?”
Well, there really isn’t any difference. A blog is a niche site. A niche site can be called a blog. A niche site can also be called an authority site. A blog can also be called an authority site.
Meaning there’s no difference between them besides what you choose to call them.
But for me, there’s a reason why I call some sites blogs and some sites niche sites.
This is purely based on my own way of thinking, but I’m pretty confident that you’re going to agree with my reasons why.
The real difference between a blog and a niche site
Again, a blog and a niche site is pretty much the same thing. The difference is only in the name.
However, there’s a reason why I call some sites blogs and some sites niche sites.
To me, there are a few major differences.
Do you notice the difference?
The sites I listed as blogs are heavily tied to the influencer who created the site. It’s more like a personal blog, and people follow these sites because of them.
For example, on RankXL every post is personally written and published by me. My audience reads my blog posts because they want to learn from me, or hear what I have to say on a certain matter.
This is the same for every other site listed as a blog.
The influencer is the key focus of the blog. Without the influencer, there is no audience.
What would happen if I sold RankXL tomorrow?
My audience would disappear.
The buyer would need to creatively do something to keep the existing audience who was originally here to learn from Chris Lee, who is now gone.
A niche site, on the other hand, is followed for its content.
The readers usually don’t even know who the founder is. They don’t care.
But they choose to read and follow the blog because they like the content they’re putting out and/or they agree with the site’s mission and beliefs.
So what’s better? A blog or niche site?
Neither. To me, they’re completely different strategies and have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s go through a few.
You can develop quite a heavy following with a blog.
You’re able to develop a stronger influence as a person rather than a company. A blog can make the author quite famous, and well-respected on the internet.
For example, I’m sure you know who Neil Patel is, but you probably don’t know who Derek Flanzraich is. (FYI: Derek is the founder and CEO of Greatist, a growing health niche site with over 10 million uniques per month. Greatist has received $8M in funding so far, and is valued at much more than that.)
If Greatist were a blog revolved entirely around Derek, and was getting 10 million uniques per month, he’d be an internet celebrity… and life would probably be a lot different.
It’s more difficult to grow a personal blog
Personal blogs are more difficult to scale.
For one, you usually have to write all the content (except guest posts) yourself.
Second, because your name is behind everything you publish, you’re less likely to take advantage of opportunities that are solely traffic driven.
You just become a lot more self-conscious about your writing. You start going through more and more rounds of editing before publishing. Or sometimes you work on a blog post for hours and decide that it’s not worthy of being published.
Instead of publishing to increase traffic, you start getting overly focused on “building your personal brand” through amazing content.
And as a result, over half your drafts will never get published.
With a niche site, you have more freedom to try out aggressive growth strategies.
For example, you might notice that you have built up an insanely high domain authority and are dominating the search results.
So you might decide to capitalize on this by hiring 30 writers to 30x your publishing volume.
This is something that could kill the audience for a blog like RankXL.
People would start asking, “Where the hell did Chris go? Who are these people?”
A niche site is much easier to sell.
A blog heavily tied around one person is difficult to sell in the future.
The buyers should know why the blog has such a devoted audience in the first place. It’s not the site, but who’s writing on the site.
If Pat Flynn sold Smart Passive Income and created a new blog, would you continue reading Smart Passive Income or move with him to his new blog?
No question, I would start following his new blog instead. I’d probably stick around SPI to see what the new owners do with it, but unless it was something extraordinary, I’d be gone.
A blog makes it easier to sell products.
Although it’s more difficult to scale or sell a personal blog, it’s a lot easier to make a lot of sales of high-priced products. Because a blog is centred around an influencer, they eventually build more and more trust with each piece of content they publish.
In fact, look at most of the big personal blogs out there. Almost every one of them sell a high priced online training course. Usually, they’re over $1000.
This is only possible because of the personal brand they built up, and this trust translates into sales whenever they release a product or service.
While it might be difficult or impossible to sell the site for a massive pay day, it’s easy to continue riding and building your influence into your old age selling your knowledge and products.
So should you build a blog or niche site?
With both strategies, it’s all about execution, and what you ultimately want to build. They both have their ups and downs.
Do you want to build a personal brand through a blog? Do you want to build an audience around you?
Do you want to laser-focus on growing a single niche site to millions of visitors, and have a big exit one day when you sell the site off?
Why am I writing this right now?
It’s because this is what I’m actively thinking about and researching these days.
I’m going to be starting a new project – one that I’ll be working on as my main focus in 2017 and most likely for the next 3 to 5 years.
Currently, I’m leaning toward a niche site rather than a blog.
Building a personal brand doesn’t really excite me. Having my entire business revolve around selling training products or “building trust” around me doesn’t really get me motivated to work harder.
It doesn’t get me pumped up and eager to work in the morning.
You know what does?
Building a massive content business with rapid growth, seeing millions of unique visitors in my analytics, getting thousands of email subscribers collected per day, and making thousands in revenue per day.
And lastly, I just need to know that what I’m working on will have a big pay off. I can’t imagine working on building a site very passionately if there’s no potential for a big pay off.
Having a big exit one day is one of the biggest perks of working on a site. It’s what makes building niche sites so profitable. You don’t just work and work and work until you just decide to stop working on it.
You eventually decide to sell it, and you get rewarded for all the work you did with a giant paycheque.
For example, look at this site: The Wirecutter.
They review tech products, and make a commission each time someone clicks through and makes a purchase.
They were recently bought by The New York Times for $30 million after about 4 years working on the site.
Now these are the kind of exits worth working towards. And it’s what I’ll be working towards myself.
Will I receive an offer from a company as large as The New York Times for 8 figures?
Realistically the chances are low.
But I certainly think it’s possible to get a 7-figure valuation within the next 3 to 5 years.