Blogs & Niche Sites: When to Pivot? How to Know (March 2023 Report)

By Kimberly


I hear a lot that running your own business can be risky; however, there’s risk inherent in any business – whether you own it or you’re working for someone else. I was recently chatting with a YouTuber friend who’d had that same realization (along with the realization she was so much happier being a YouTuber than working for her former employer, as they were letting go a lot of employees). But how do you know when the risks are building up enough that you need to pivot your business?

When to pivot a blog, niche site, or business depends on many factors, including finances, goals, business practices, industry trends, etc. AI (ChatGPT) is forcing many content creators to adapt on the fly. Be aware of your business so you can pivot before there’s a financial problem.

There’s more nuance than relying on intuition or some vague “good luck with that!” So let’s dig into some of the nuances, shall we?

An image of words chance and change on a wooden background.

Signs That It’s Time to Pivot

Signs that it’s time to pivot your business can include a lack of progress despite investing significant money and resources, too much competition, or changing customer preferences. These signs can indicate it may be time to reassess your business strategy and consider pivoting to a new direction.

The decision to pivot a business is not an easy one to make. It requires careful consideration and analysis of various factors, including market trends, customer needs, competition, and financial resources. Pivoting can be risky, but it can also be a game-changer for your business if done correctly. Knowing when to pivot your business can differentiate success and failure.

Sign #1: Market Changes (Industry Shifts)

One of the most obvious signs that it’s time to pivot is when there are significant changes in the market. This could be due to new technology, changes in consumer preferences, or economic shifts. If your business is no longer meeting the market’s needs, it’s time to pivot.

AI-assisted writing isn’t just new – it’s a huge industry-changing shift that will impact everything. Don’t get me wrong – human writing is still (right now) far superior to AI-alone writing. But this article is augmented with some AI – that I am heavily babysitting, editing, and reviewing before it gets published. So even if you do it this way, it does speed up the writing process – which is awesome.

Sign #2: Customer Feedback

Another sign that it’s time to pivot is when you receive consistent negative customer feedback. This could be related to your product or service, pricing, or customer service. If your customers are not satisfied, it’s time to make changes.

As a content creator, the best way to gauge customer feedback is by watching your KPIs like sessions, pageviews, ad revenue, watch time, or other key metrics important to the media. Whether we’re talking YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, websites, or whatever else, it’ll vary.

Sign #3: Revenue and Growth Projections

If your revenue and growth projections are not meeting expectations, it’s time to examine your business model closely. This could be due to a lack of differentiation, poor marketing, or an unsustainable cost structure. If your business is not financially viable, it’s time to pivot.

Sign #4: Competitive Landscapes

Finally, it’s time to pivot if your competitors are gaining market share and you are losing ground. This could be due to a lack of innovation, poor execution, or an inability to compete on price. If your competitors are outpacing you, it’s time to change your business model.

How to Pivot Your Business

Once a need to pivot is identified, creating and implementing the plan is critical based on identifying new opportunities, developing the plan, communicating with the team, and executing.

Identify New Opportunities

Before pivoting your business, it’s important to identify new opportunities that align with your company’s strengths and goals. Conduct market research to identify gaps in the market that your business can fill, and analyze your competitors to see what they’re doing well and where they’re falling short. Consider your company’s unique strengths and how they can be leveraged to take advantage of new opportunities.

In niche sites, it could seem like AI is lowering the bar to creating new sites. That’s partly true – it’s easier than ever for anyone to create decent content. But getting your decent content up-leveled to good content isn’t any easier – and it’s still working to get your content in front of people.

AI-assisted content is easy to create, easy to mess up, hard to uplevel (unless you know what you’re doing), and not guaranteed to get organic or social traffic (unless you know what you’re doing, and even then – that whole landscape is due to shift here soon, given AI modeling usage in searches).

Do I know how that’ll all play out? Nope. I’ve got my suspicions. The only thing I’m sure of – is that everything changes.

Develop a Plan

Once you’ve identified new opportunities, it’s important to develop a plan for how to pivot your business. This plan should include specific goals, timelines, and budgets for implementing the changes. Consider the resources needed to make the pivot successful, such as new technology, additional staff, or updated marketing materials. Consider any potential risks or challenges during the pivot and develop contingency plans to address them.

For a niche site, this could mean evaluating and revamping your content, tweaking your site structure, or making other large site changes. You may have noticed a rather large site change here; I’m now allowing comments! I previously didn’t allow them, as I didn’t want to deal with people.

However, as the sites grow and AI expands, having a community is more important than ever. So, comments are turned on, and I’ll engage in them. There are strong spam filters in place, though. So keep your language PG-rated if you don’t want to get auto-marked as spam.

Communicate with Stakeholders, Team Members, and/or Partners

Effective communication is key when pivoting your business. It’s important to communicate the reasons for the pivot to your employees, customers, partners, and investors clearly and concisely. Be transparent about the changes that will be made and how they will impact each stakeholder group. Address any concerns or questions and be open to feedback from stakeholders.

Execute the Pivot

Once you’ve developed a plan and communicated with stakeholders, executing the pivot is time. This may involve rebranding your business, updating your products or services, or changing your target market. Be sure to track your progress and adjust your plan as needed. Staying flexible and adapting to any challenges during the pivot is important.

How I Pivoted Our Business

Pivoting can be a smart move for businesses. However, it’s important to note that a pivot should be carefully planned and executed. A pivot should be based on data and research, and it should address a real need in the market. We looked at the data, made decisions, and changed as needed.

Our business (and our portfolio of niche sites) has been affected by the economy, as have all ad-revenue-based business models. There is a downturn in the economy, and ignoring that fact will only lead to problems. We’ve also had some growth stagnation or loss of growth, depending on the sites we’re looking at.

We’ve watched this for months – in actual data, projections, and forecasts. Things have improved some, but not enough. I kept my partners updated about the data, and we talked about options as they came up. Recently, we decided to create a safe exit plan for our team and downsize that as much as possible. I gave each exiting team member time to submit final work, gave them referrals to new clients, and provided recommendations as needed.

I am both trepidatious and excited about the change, as it means I’ll be taking on all of the writing and editing again – although it may be AI-augmented or assisted. There’s still plenty of grammar software scanning my writing for when I write a run-on sentence.

Downsizing the team means less time managing – and more time and personal touch on all aspects of the portfolio. It also means more time to reorganize and improve each site to improve user experience. It will be much more work for me, but I’m okay with that now.

Does this guarantee my business will survive the AI-inundation of content creation and niche sites? No. There’s never a guarantee. There are always risks. But this does help pare down costs so that the business is sustainable – which will help it survive and thrive again.

Let’s get into some reports.

March 2023 Portfolio Report

Slow and steady progress is still progress.

Month to month

  • Publishing: -27%
  • Traffic: +16%
  • Revenue: -35%

Year over year

  • Publishing: -36%
  • Traffic: -47%
  • Revenue: -50%

Year to Date

  • Publishing: -15%
  • Traffic: -43%
  • Revenue: -41%

There are a lot of sadly negative numbers in this report. That’s why we downsized. “Change or die” is a sad (but sometimes true) business euphemism.

Last month, I wrote about following the data to find, fix, and improve posts that used to get traffic (read it here). I’m still working on that project – it won’t be 100% done ever because it’s a continual project. But I am making progress and seeing positive results already.

In any case, on to the data and timeline recap:

  • I started blogging in 2013.
  • I joined Income School’s Project 24 in 2019.
  • Going from $0 to $1000 monthly took me 26 months from implementing the Income School style strategy.
  • Going from $1000 to $2000 for the first time took another 4 months.
  • Getting to above $2000 monthly consistently took another 3 months.
  • Months since I first hit $2,000/month: 15 and counting

TLDR: The economy is still down. My colleagues with more premium ad revenue partners and/or l larger sites seem to weather this economic downturn better. The keys are still diversification. Don’t stick all your eggs in any one basket.

March 2023 Site Report

The sites themselves are growing. My next steps are reevaluating publishing goals, to balance publishing new articles with upgrading existing articles to maximize our efforts in the limited working time we have available.

Site A

  • Gardening
  • New posts: 5
  • Total posts: 322
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site B

  • Parenting
  • New posts: 0
  • Total posts: 131
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site C

  • Genealogy
  • New posts: 0
  • Total posts: 70
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site D

  • Writing
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 37
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site E

  • Sports
  • New posts: 3
  • Total posts: 59
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site F

  • Entertainment
  • New posts: 3
  • Total posts: 22
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site G

  • Home
  • New posts: 3
  • Total posts: 25
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site H

  • Educational
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 17
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Are All Business Pivots Big?

Not all business pivot decisions are large; some small change decisions can have big impacts on the business. Small steps add up to great impacts and changes.

For example, I’ve run long tests on my Ezoic settings. That test recently ended, and I changed site settings to reflect the best choices from my tests. Did that have any huge impact on my business? Not a ton. It improved user experience, though, reflected in traffic and ad revenue.

Turning on comments isn’t a huge business pivot, either. It was a good amount of work to set up, but now that it’s done, it’s pretty easy to maintain.

Letting the writing team go was a big pivot, I’ll admit. I hope to bring them back on sometime in the future, although I don’t have a timeline. It’s going to depend on a lot of factors.

So not all business pivots have to be big.

Are There Any Other Big Changes on the Horizon?

At this time, I think we’ve made all of the big decisions for our business pivot. All that’s left is the implementation or execution. To date, the pivot has focused on supporting our leaving team members. It’s now focused on building new site plans, planning content, working on that content, publishing, and continuing our marketing outreach. So there aren’t any big changes right now. But we’ll continue to watch the industry and adapt as needed.

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Want to keep up and/or learn from my experience (and hopefully save you some heartache)? Here are the resources that have helped me along the way.

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