March 2022 Report: How the Publishing World is Changing


Before we get to the March niche site reports, I want to talk briefly about how the publishing world is changing. And don’t get me wrong – change is good. Most of the time, anyway.

April 2022 Writing Report
April 2022 Writing Report

I’ll talk about that first – and why it’s relevant. Then I’ll dive into the niche site reports, and tie everything up in a bow. That’s the plan, anyway.

And just for fun, we’ll see if I can’t do it all while doing this breathing treatment. Asthma plus winters and cold equal not fun for me.

image of clovers

How the Publishing World is Changing

In the last few days, NYT best-selling author Brandon Sanderson put up a Kickstarter that’s become the #1 funded Kickstarter of all time. Last I checked, it was well north of $15 million. His big sales pitch? Four (4) brand new, self-published books. They’re currently unnamed unless you dig into the spoiler-filled threads and emails. I won’t spoil them here.

He could have chosen to self-publish on Amazon, but he pointed out in an interview that Amazon’s already a good-sized monopoly. Giving them some competition is healthier for the whole publishing industry. So hooray for Kickstarter as a new, previously untapped way to self-publish instead of going the traditional publishing route.

Prior to this, the routes to go for book writers were as follows:

  • Traditional publishing
  • DIY Self-Publishing
  • Print on Demand publishing
  • Expensive, done-for-you self-publishing
  • Crowd funding
  • Patreon
  • Kickstarter

The odds of success on all of these vary widely, depending on if an author is established or not, has an existing fan base or not, and so on.

I know a lot of authors. It takes a lot of work to get traditionally published (with a publisher, like Tor or Penguin, etc). And if you want to become a New York Times best-selling author, you really need to be traditionally published to have the best chance.

Okay, technically you can only even qualify for the list if you’re traditionally published.

So seeing an NYT best-selling author like Sanderson dabble in self-publishing? It’s kind of awesome. He’s actively working to change the industry, even if he doesn’t say as much.

It’s sad to think that these 4 new books of his won’t qualify for the NYT best-seller’s list, but he’s got a big enough following that he just earned $15 million in a day. I think he’s fine without another badge. For $15 million? I’d sure be fine skipping it.

How Does the Publishing World Relate to Niche Websites (and these reports)?

Being a sci-fi and fantasy author is something that’s still very much on my radar. So, I keep tabs on the industry. Because it’s not an easy industry to “break into” by any means.

Even just getting into the trad-pub end of things doesn’t guarantee you success. Usually, it means you get a contract for a single book. And you’re not going to get promoted unless you’re the one person they pick that year to really promote.

So, the odds are that getting one book deal may be the last you get. Because other publishers will wonder why you didn’t get a better contract, so why would they work with you?

But writing for a website? There’s a different barrier to entry – and that’s getting traffic. And I know how to get traffic.

This website is still small. It used to be bigger, back before I totally gutted it and repositioned it to be a writing-based site, complete with reports on my websites.

But by building up a website with great content, you can build a community or a fanbase. That’s part of the reason I have my free Online Library of stories for people to read.

This won’t make me an NYT best-selling author any time soon, mind. I’d still have to break into the tradpub realm. But if I can already have an existing fanbase like Brandon Sanderson? Then it’ll be loads easier to get into tradpub or to go the Kickstarter route or whatever else is best at that time.

There’s one other way that a portfolio of niche websites is related to the publishing world: overall readership and income.

Authors

  • Getting on the NYT best-seller list requires that you sell at least 5,000 books within one week.
  • Usually, you’ll need at least double that to really compete with the big names, though.
  • Most authors struggle to sell 1,000 copies of their book.
  • Usually, an author won’t make any royalties until they’ve sold at least that many books.
  • Author friends who have gotten an inital advance say it’s between $1,000 and $10,000. It varies, and that’s normal.
  • A novel is usually about 75,000 words long.
  • So for 5,000 to 10,000 books sold, they get a shiny title as a best-seller and they earned their author’s advance, which varies in size depending on a lot of factors.
  • To earn a living as a writer, you need a good portfolio of books that keep selling so you can earn good money on the royalties.
  • Publishing new books should help you sell more older books, and vice versa.

Websites

  • Website authors won’t ever make the NYT best-seller list, but nobody starts a website to get on that anyway. There are publisher awards, though.
  • New websites won’t see much organic traffic for a while. I count on 6-12 months of not much happening.
  • During this time, a site can make some money, but it won’t be more than several thousand dollars.
  • Building a first website to 50,000 monthly sessions takes 1-3 years.
  • Sites that have 50,000 sessions per month can earn at least $1,000 per month or more, depending on the niche.
  • Sites can get to 50,000 pageviews with anywhere from 30 or more articles, depending on competition.
  • Sites with more pageviews and sessions earn more, with the sky being the limit.
  • A website with 200 articles on it is a good-sized website. Given that most articles are about 1500 words, that website is about 300,000 words or 4 books.
  • Interlinking betweeen relevant posts is a great way to get new eyes on articles of all ages.

Most writers don’t sell their first book, or even their first several. I believe Brandon Sanderson sold his fifth book.

So one way isn’t better or worse than the other, but it is fun to see the similarities. And whichever route you go, you become a better writer over time.

And hopefully, you become a good enough writer that you can publish where you want and earn a decent income, too.

So while I keep working on my books, I’ll keep building niche websites at the same time. That way, when my book is finally done, I can publish it where it makes sense – and I can focus on telling stories I love and people love to hear, rather than stressing about if my book will earn me enough money to justify the time I spend writing. The websites will cover that!

Site Reports

Now that you know how it all relates and have hopefully learned something about the book publishing world, let’s dig into the reports.

Again, these reports have some huge inspiration from April of Bloggersontherise.com and Anne Moss of Yeys.com. You can read more about why they’re so awesome in last month’s report: February 2022 Traffic & Report.

All Sites

  • Total new posts: 23
  • Total Sessions: 75,570
  • Revenue: $1,548.58
  • EPMV: $17.62
  • Montization: Ads + affiliates

Getting from $0 to $1,000 per month took me 24 months after joining Project 24.

Getting from $1,000 to $2,000 per month took me 4 months.

Site #1

  • Niche: gardening
  • Site age: 26 months
  • New posts: 18
  • Current number of posts: 225
  • Projected total posts: 1000s
  • Sessions: 48,231
  • Revenue: $1065.70
  • EPMV: $20.53
  • Montization: Ads + affiliates

This site was my 2nd one from Project 24. This site also has a growing YouTube presence that I’ve loved doing as an experiment in personal growth and all that.

In the last 30 days, it’s officially surpassed 50,000 sessions!!

Site #2

  • Niche: sports
  • Site age: 9 months
  • New posts: 3
  • Current number of posts: 24
  • Projected total posts: 250
  • Sessions: 380
  • Revenue: $2.33
  • EPMV: $7.90
  • Montization: Ads + affiliates

This is a baby site, but it’s fun to have new projects, so it is what it is. It’s got some early indicators that the “ghost town” phase is ending, though. After all, the number of sessions each month continues to grow.

Site #3

  • Niche: genealogy
  • Site age: 26 months
  • New posts: 0
  • Current number of posts: 57
  • Projected total posts: 200
  • Sessions: 5403
  • Revenue: $91.49
  • EPMV: $14.33
  • Montization: Ads + affiliates

This site is a lot of fun, and it’s got a lot of great potential for things like a membership. We’re exploring those ideas.

It has decreased of late, but it’s definitely tied to the low publishing rate over the last few months. We’re working on increasing that in a sustainable manner. And this month was a big conference, so we’ve got juicy info to share! Should be fun.

Site #4

  • Niche: writing, blogging
  • Site age: 30+ months
  • New posts: 1
  • Current number of posts: 26
  • Projected total posts: 200
  • Sessions: 1924
  • Revenue: $20.05
  • EPMV: $6.35
  • Montization: Ads + affiliates

Spoiler: this is this site. It’s taken a huge hit over time since I deleted so many articles and posts that got strong social-media-driven traffic.

In fact, just earlier today I finished deleting all of the recipes and random posts that used to be on this site. I did move some to other sites, so there are redirects in place for those. However, all this will mean another traffic and revenue hit to this site, but it’s less than 2,000 sessions and $20 per month, so it was time.

It is so nice to be off the hamster wheel of relying on purely social media to get traffic. Because now? Now I know how to get traffic organically – by writing killer content.

Site #5

  • Niche: parenting
  • Site age: 30+ months
  • New posts: 1
  • Current number of posts: 106
  • Projected total posts: 250
  • Sessions: 19,589
  • Revenue: $369.01
  • EPMV: $12.74
  • Montization: Ads + affiliates

This site also has seen a little bit of a decline in traffic, which I expected. This time of year isn’t a huge one for this niche, but that’s okay. I’m expanding into appropriate horizontal categories to beef it up.

Other Niche Sites

I do have other sites built, but I’m not reporting on them yet. I plan to report on them perhaps next year, once they’ve got some content on them.

I did put one post up on one of these niche sites, as it used to be on this one. The redirect is up. I don’t expect that to give it a significant traffic boost, though, as it usually only saw a very small amount of socially-driven traffic each month.

Celebration: 50K Sessions!

Getting one website to 50,000 sessions has been a goal of mine since probably 2015. So actually getting niche site #1 there? It’s an amazing feeling.

I’m going to celebrate this 50,000 sessions milestone with a happy dance – that you don’t get to see, sorry!

Originally, my goal had been to get a site to 25,000 sessions so I could get it on Mediavine. But then Mediavine changed its requirement to 50,000 sessions to be eligible for consideration.

So could I apply to Mediavine? I could. I’m choosing to stay with Ezoic, though.

  • I’ve had really good luck with them so far, and they’ve been a reliable ad partner. They are by no means perfect, and there’s a huge DIY component to Ezoic.
  • Ezoic doesn’t have an eligibility requirement that’s not uniformly enforced.
  • They have killer data, and it’s all available to me. I can see what works. I just have to learn how to read it.

I’m streamlining a personal process to get new sites onto Ezoic and getting their EPMV up quickly while writing content so that their traffic goes up, too. It’s a work in progress, but it’s coming along nicely.

Having a sufficiently large site stay with Ezoic means I’ll be able to test and improve things, rather than wondering where things went wrong (and not having a site with enough traffic to test).

I may revisit the idea of applying to Mediavine or AdThrive (or other companies) in the future with other sites. But for now? I’m Team Ezoic.

In any case, that’s pretty much this month’s ramblings, reports, and so on. Plus, I even covered a few of the thoughts I’ve had relating to blogging and the publishing world. This is fun, because I’ve been working on thinking through my YouTube strategy, so this has been a fun exercise towards that.

Hey – I’m a writer. I write out my thoughts! I’m glad you came along for the ride. Wanna celebrate with me? Subscribe to the YouTube channel and join my newsletter. Either of those (or better yet, both!) would be freaking awesome if you asked me.

Resources I Use and Recommend

These are the resources I’ve found most valuable – so I recommend you go check them out. They’ll help whether you’re writing fiction, writing for niche blogs, or building an online business. I keep an up-to-date list of all of the tools and resources I use to manage my blogs on my Tools and Resources page. I use referral links to advertising partners.

These are the top tools that I use and recommend:

  • Project 24 – hands-down the best course for building a niche site or an online business that focuses on content.
  • Ezoic – once you’ve got a website and some content, think about these guys. They’re doing some amazing things – and have helped me earn several thousand dollars (in ad revenue) that I’d not have earned otherwise.
  • Big Scoots hosting – we just switched to Big Scoots and it’s been as easy as April told me it would be. Seriously. It’s a great hosting option.
  • Link Whisper – I’ve just started using it, and it’s been a great tool to help me build up my linking strategy.
  • Kindle Unlimited – this is a great way to try out new books and classics. Make sure you add the latest editions of Deep Magic magazine to your kindle shelf!
  • Audible Plus – I love listening to podcasts and books while I’m doing the normal, everyday life things (like laundry). This has been a huge way to up my creativity!
  • ClickUp – Hands-down the best software for keeping track of all the things. I use it for stories, websites, and family stuff. Everyone can access what they need, it’s all centralized, and it connects with our calendars.

These resources really have proven invaluable to me – and I think you’ll benefit from them, too. Happy writing, friends.

Want to stay up to date with new reports? Be sure to subscribe to my free newsletter.

An image of Kimberly with 3 of her children.

About Kimberly

I’m a ginger who loves reading, eating, being a nurse, spending time with my family, and writing about it all. Tacos and chocolate are my kryptonite.

I believe in transparency.

Kimberly C. Starr is operated under Protean Enterprises LLC, a Utah limited liability company.

Protean Enterprises, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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