Building A 6-Figure Business With A Niche Sites, Podcasts & YouTube Channel Portfolio

Published: October 25th, 2023
Doug Cunnington
Niche Site Project
from Longmont
started October 2013
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I’m Doug Cunnington, and I run a media company, Niche Site Project, consisting of niche websites, podcasts, and YouTube channels. The niche websites earn from ad revenue and affiliate commissions.

I also developed online courses teaching other people to start working on side hustles.

One podcast, Affiliate Marketing and Side Hustles on the Doug.Show, and YouTube channel help people learn more about niche websites, SEO, affiliate marketing, and working online.

The courses, podcasts, and YouTube videos are great for people who have corporate jobs and want to work for themselves. The content resonates with people who have corporate jobs, just like I had.

They know what it’s like to work for a boss who doesn’t make the best decisions, which is frustrating! They want to get out of the situation and start being the boss.

The other show, Mile High FI Podcast, is about financial independence, personal finance, and life after early retirement. We also have a YouTube channel.

Each podcast has about a million downloads and has been growing slowly over the last few years. My plans are to continue slow growth to suit my post-retirement lifestyle.

As far as revenue, I’m holding steady in the low six figures, but hope to wind things down in the next few years. I don’t have any plans to grow the business.



What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I’m a recovering corporate worker bee — I used to work as a project manager in the software/IT industry, but luckily, I got laid off in 2015.

I had a few niche websites and successes under my belt so I knew it was a good opportunity to take it full time. I didn’t have any background in entrepreneurship or side hustles. I was just focused on climbing the corporate ladder but found it unfulfilling.

I randomly found some side hustle podcasts in 2013. I got obsessed and started my first website within a month. I picked something I was passionate about in the food space. It was a total flop and I made every mistake in the book, but I was hooked.

After failing fast, I tried again and my next niche website did great. I made over $6,000 in one single month within six months of launching. I knew I was on to something.


I still picked a niche in the food space. The monetization was solely Amazon Associates, which is the affiliate program for Amazon. I can’t mention the site or domain name here, since I sold the site and the NDA prevents me from sharing. But you can see similar examples of niche sites here.

I made over $10,000 in 2013! My original goal was to earn $350 per month, so I crushed that goal.


Around the same time, I decided to start documenting my journey on the Niche Site Project blog. I wanted to earn from websites, but also start my brand, including my products.

The blog eventually grew into YouTube and The Affiliate Marketing & Side Hustle Podcast on the Doug Show.

At the time of getting laid off, I had about 10 years of experience as a management consultant and project manager. It wasn’t obvious, but having project management experience helped me with planning and executing my business ideas.

I knew the online courses would have a market since they are courses I would take myself. Plus, there were plenty of other courses in the market already. But I took it a step further when I launched.

I still built niche sites along the way. Most of the sites were fine, but not big successes. Now and then, a niche site would take off. In 2016, I worked on a site that earned tens of thousands per month.


It gave me a lot of topics to blog and podcast about, plus it gave me a lot of credibility to sell my course.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

The first version of the flagship course was an ebook, first launched in 2013. The expenses were very low, other than spending my free time on the book. I only spent about $100 on formatting the book. I wrote the book in Google Docs, my wife helped me to edit and proofread the book.

The book was about 100 pages so it took me about 6 weeks to write the book in my spare time.

The single best thing about launching was preselling the ebook. I recommend people always prelaunch if they can do it.

I had my blog and a few blog posts, plus an email list with a simple lead magnet. The email list gave me a way to market and sell the ebook. The email list was only about 800 subscribers, but quite engaged.

To get some initial traction, I was a guest on a podcast, plus I did a couple of guest posts on blogs in the space. Most of the email subscribers were from being a guest on podcasts and writing guest posts. Many of the subscribers were in the IT and tech industry.

But the main interest was to earn money on the side from websites.

I created a sales page with an outline of the book. It was short and simple. I just created a regular page on WordPress and added the snippet of code for the “buy” button.

There were 2 options:

  1. Ebook
  2. Ebook + 1-on-1 coaching

The presell was to validate the idea and more importantly, validate that people would pay me money for the ebook. They paid ahead of time. I was pretty nervous about pricing, but knew I could adjust it later.

I wanted to have multiple options so I decided to have the basic presell book at $67. The ebook plus coaching was priced at $117.

That served another purpose: It’s highly motivating to finish the product if people have already paid you. You will not procrastinate if you must deliver by a certain date.

With this presell, I framed it as the Alpha version. The Beta version would come out 6 weeks later, then the final version after another 4 weeks.

The presell customers would get a big discount and all future updates. Beta customers would get a smaller discount and future updates.

I got feedback from the customers along the way to improve the ebook for the Beta and final versions.

I set a minimum threshold for the presell to decide to move forward or scrap the idea. If I sold 10, then I would write the book. I sold 11, so I wrote a 100-page book in about 6 weeks.

I hired a freelancer from Upwork (which was called Odesk at the time) to create the final layout for the PDF. I used a simple file delivery system called e-junkie.

No matter your industry, a podcast, YouTube channel, or email list will help you network and be part of the thought leadership. It’s worth the time to figure out how to communicate in written form, audio, and video.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Launching the business was simple and inexpensive since it was just a blog at first.

I was featured as a success story on Niche Pursuits, so I used that opportunity to send people to my blog and lead magnet. That helped get the email list going.

I wrote a couple of blog posts myself, but I started networking right away. I also knew I didn’t have time to write more blog posts since I needed to write a book!

I reached out to other people that were featured.

I asked them if they wanted to write a guest post for my new blog. That helped me get more content on the blog and helped me build my network in the industry.

Once I got more traction, I was on the Niche Pursuits Podcast, which helped even more people find the blog. I offered a lead magnet on the podcast with Spencer’s permission.

It was one of the highest traffic days for the blog!


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Long-term case studies helped the site grow — people love to follow along. They are tough to do since it’s hard to be consistent. I’ve started and stopped so many, but when they work, it’s highly effective to build a following.

After I had the blog going for a while, I started to dabble with YouTube. I wasn’t consistent and looked like I was scared of the camera! However, I started to look at the data and realized that I was getting 5x more email subscribers from YouTube referral traffic versus any other traffic. That includes organic SEO traffic.

So I doubled down on YouTube and started publishing at least once a week. I committed to doing 2 live streams per week as well. I even tested publishing 2 videos per day for a month — it worked well but was unsustainable in the long run.

After a couple of years, I had to scratch the podcasting itch. Since I got started by hearing a podcast, I always wanted to start my own. In 2019, I started my podcast covering many of the same topics from the blog and YouTube.

As of late 2023, the podcast is still going strong with nearly 500 episodes and 1 million downloads. I used to publish 2 episodes per week but cut it down to 1 episode per week for lifestyle and time reasons.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

These days I spend most of my time creating podcasts and YouTube videos. They serve as the top-end funnel for online courses. I use Kajabi for email marketing, hosting the courses, and sales funnel.

So while the online courses and niche sites are very profitable, I didn’t want to keep doing the same things again and again. Plus, Google algorithm updates tend to shake up SEO traffic often, and I didn’t like the uncertainty.

Plus, along the way, I got interested in financial independence and early retirement. I focused on reaching financial independence so I could have even more freedom, especially with my time.

I ended up interviewing, Carl Jensen, founder of, one of the most well-known bloggers in the FIRE space. We hit it off and started another show called, Mile High FI Podcast.

Nevertheless, I have a YouTube channel with over 38,000 subscribers and 11,000+ email subscribers with a 30% open rate. I keep the team lean too. I have one virtual executive assistant and a video editor, and each works under 10 hours per week.

I don’t have plans on expanding! I’ve kept things small so it’s the right size for me, inspired by Tim Ferriss and Derek Sivers. I’m in a holding pattern and prefer to create content for the audience that serves them and keeps me fulfilled, instead of serving the algorithm.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Early in my journey, I knew that I shouldn’t rely on other platforms too much. So, it was really important to have assets that I control, namely my email list and podcast.

They are the most independent platforms.

YouTube is not independent, but it’s one of the most open platforms.

I did get blindsided when I got hit by Google updates in the first few years, mostly related to gray hat link-building techniques. I don’t feel too bad about my decisions, since gray hat linkbuilding was the standard practice for many years.

Losing SEO traffic and having issues with Google taught me that I shouldn’t rely too much on any one source of traffic.

I also got caught up with Amazon Associates commission rate changes in 2017 and 2020. In both cases, my revenue dropped by about 35% to 40% — a devastating amount.

Additionally, I was selling sites in 2017 and 2020 so the commission rate changes ended up costing me over six figures for each of the niche site exits.

It got me featured on CNBC since I was covering it on YouTube livestreams. Eventually, I was able to interview someone from Amazon Associates a few years later, but we have yet to talk about the commission rate changes.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I keep it simple and always prefer to use the simplest solution possible.

The main tools I use are:

  • Trello for content management/planning
  • Google Suite for Docs and Sheets
  • Kajabi for email marketing, courses, funnels
  • Castos for podcast hosting
  • Descript for audio/video/transcript editing

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I love podcasts, and they got me started.

Smart Passive Income (SPI) Podcast: It’s the podcast that got me started! I stopped listening a few years ago, but it helped me out in the beginning.

Niche Pursuits Podcast: This show helped me even more than Smart Passive Income. Spencer Haws was a guest on SPI to talk about Amazon Affiliate marketing and keyword research. He also started a case study that I followed along with, which led to my first big success. I was a guest on Niche Pursuits in 2021 and 2023.

Tropical MBA Podcast: It’s one of the first podcasts I found in 2013. I still listen today and was even a guest to talk about affiliate marketing.

Tim Ferriss Podcast: It helped me understand other approaches to jobs, work, and time freedom.

I’m a big reader too:

Purple Cow – Seth Godin - about creating something remarkable.

Essentialism – Greg McKeown - about only working on the critical things and ignoring the rest.

Deep Work – Cal Newport - about getting real work done and ignoring the non-important distractions.

Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg - about creating habits to help you get things done.

Smarter Faster Better – Charles Duhigg - about improving productivity.

The Dip – Seth Godin - about when to quit a project or push through the dip.

Influence – Robert Cialdini - The best book on marketing and selling.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

You should get started as soon as possible and take action. At some point, you don’t need to research more, you need to execute. Don’t get stuck in research and analysis.

You should find mentors — usually course creators who know how to do what you want to do. You probably won’t be able to find a person who will just mentor you, so courses are a great hack to get someone to help out.

In-person events, like conferences or masterminds, are great to meet people and network. It’s a great way to grow in any industry.

No matter your industry, a podcast, YouTube channel, or email list will help you network and be part of the thought leadership. It’s worth the time to figure out how to communicate in written form, audio, and video.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!