Why The “Make Money Online” Niche Sucks

Why The “Make Money Online” Niche Sucks

Since I started my first online business in 2006, I have always been fanatical about list building and email marketing.

And for the main part (97%), I have been directing all my focus and energy into building my list in one niche; the “internet marketing niche” or “make money online” niche.

I was doing this fairly successfully by setting up squeeze pages, giving away free reports, selling low ticket ebooks, running free membership sites and leveraging affiliates, JV ad swaps, traffic exchanges, safelists, solo ads and giveaways to get traffic and subscribers.

The Good ‘ol Days

For a while there, I was getting sign ups and sales effortlessly. I could get 50% opt-in rates, mail out a promo and get a 10% open rate and 10% sales conversion rate.

I could get 100+ signs ups a day on auto-pilot that cost me nothing, and then make $500+ in sales from one email blast selling a $10 product. I even had a few $1000 days.

Unfortunately, those  easy “send an email and rake in the cash” days are over.

No doubt the “make money online” niche is still alive and kicking (there’s still a fortune to be made in it), but list building and email marketing in this niche is sinking quickly.

It has just about hit rock bottom.

If you’re reading this, I sincerely thank you.

It’s most likely you came here from a link in my email to you. You are one of the mere 3% of people on my lists who open and read my emails. So I thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

If you do the math, you can work out how many subscribers of mine sent that email to the trash bin.

So what happened?

I’ll give you just a few reasons which have become clear to me as to why email marketing has died off. I’m sure there are other different factors, and if you like you can add yours or comment on these below this post.

1. List Incest

Every “MMO” marketer is ad swapping, is promoting JV giveaways, is promoting each others products, is selling products on the same forums, etc.etc.

The result is that subscribers or “prospects” that are on your list are on dozen’s of other marketers lists.. which results in the next problem.

2. Too Much Email!

Ever wake up to 144 unread emails in your inbox all from “internet marketers” trying to sell you the next best thing?

That’s what happens when you join dozens of internet marketers’ “newsletters” who are a little trigger happy on the send button.

Subscribers are sick to death of all the email.

Unless you have an EXCELLENT rapport with your subscribers and customers or you pull the world’s most miraculous, hypnotic email subject line out of your a**, your email is going straight to the trash.

And even getting your email opened these days is a feat in itself. You’d better be a John Carlton world class copywriter if you want to stand a chamce to even get your links in your email clicked on.

IM sucks

3. Too Much Pitching Of Too Much Crap

A lot of email may not be such a big problem if you’re giving away good content. But when you’re sending pitch after pitch after pitch of crappy products everyday (sometimes several times a day!) subscribers, again just get fed up with it.. especially when they buy the crap product, realize it’s crap and it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

It’s just natural for them to begin to see any email from a “marketer” as going to be another pitch for a crap house product and boom – bin.

My point is this.

Some marketers have ruined and continue to ruin the “mmo” market by continually committing the three things that I listed above.. and most probably they commit every abominable email marketing sin there is.

Now I hate to point the finger and call the kettle black.. I have been known to take a cheap shot sometimes. But the last thing I try to do is abuse my right to send emails to my subscribers.

And, I’m not saying everyone in this niche is ruining it. There are some marketers who I really respect and still open most of their emails.

But the sad thing is that it only takes a few rotten eggs to spoil the entire basket.

Ok, enough of the rant.

So what now?

As it is right now, I still make money from my subscribers and customer lists in the MMO niche even though it is considerably less than it was 12 months ago.

I could make more sales everyday if I decided to spam you and everybody on my lists with a pitch for the next best “shiny object” every day like the “gurus” do but that is the last thing I want to do.

I truly want to help people succeed online so selling you products on an entirely different topic everyday is not my bag and it doesn’t really help you either.

That only leads to confusion, information overload and an empty wallet.

It might make me a little richer for the time being, but I’d rather help you get to where you want to go and have you stick with me for the long haul.

For the past month or so, I’ve been delving into “niche marketing” and SEO. That’s why I’ve been a little quiet with my emails.

For years, I would run the other way whenever someone mentioned either one of these two terms.

I didn’t know how to do it and it seemed like too much work anyway.

But after seeing my “IM” lists’ response rate (and sales conversions) diminish before my eyes, and having started studying the workings of SEO and niche marketing, I’m seeing this route to be the future for Stu Sensei.

Why Niche SEO Marketing?

First of all, I want to steer away from the “mmo/get rich quick” niche so I want to find other niches where I can use my skills and experience to tear it up!

It was after a chat with mate and mentor James Brown in which he said “Stu, if you applied what you know about internet marketing to other niche markets, you’d totally kill it”, so that’s what I’m aiming to do.

Now that isn’t to say that I’m giving up entirely on the MMO niche.

I still want to help you succeed with internet marketing. The only major change is that what I teach you about making money online will be directly related to this new phase of “niche” marketing I’m venturing into.

And this is why I think this type of marketing style is perfect for me.. and perhaps for you too.

Search engine traffic is amazing

Is there any better quality traffic that you can target with such precision?

The whole idea of being able to target buyers with search term keywords has opened a whole new dimension to me.

I realize that if I’m targeting buyers, I don’t need to build a list. Surprise, surprise. I said it. You DON’T need to build a list.

There are some occasions where I think it would be beneficial to build a list but in most cases with this style of marketing, building a list would be a hindrance to making a sale.

Affiliate marketing

Getting paid for selling other people’s products. It’s great. I don’t need to worry about customer service, my product going stale, site maintenance… I just need to focus on driving traffic – BUYERS!

Build a niche site once, rank it and forget about it

One of the things that I’ve learned to leverage with the internet and marketing is automation.. “set and forget” types businesses. Unfortunately, the case most times in the MMO niche is that products become old extremely quickly. Another friend and great SEO marketer Dan McGonagle said to me is “it’s a flavor of the day market”.

The beauty of the niche marketing model is that once you build it, get it ranked high in Google and making sales, it will be a money maker for a considerably longer time than the next “how to make money online” ebook.

I understand about Google’s tendency to slap websites anytime they like, but there is a way to avoid them which I have studied about. That will be for another post ūüėČ

Easy to outsource

Content, backlinks, research, site creation.. it cam all be outsourced very cheaply and easily. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough to outsource stuff for my IM biz… but I know I don’t have to look far to outsource SEO jobs. I’m hitting Fiverr up just about everyday for outsourcing small tasks.

White beach
You Can Catch Me Here In The Near Future

This is perfect because the more I can outsource, the more I can get done and the more I get done, the more coin I make.

All I can really say at this time is that I am really excited about this new phase of my internet marketing career.

I am not yet an SEO or niche marketing “expert” yet but I am learning and putting what I learn into practice.

I already have one niche blog (based on WordPress – I plan to use WP for ALL my sites I ever build again) which has already made $132.61.. and I’m competing with mostly PR3 and PR4 sites!

Nothing to write home about, but it’s enough proof for me to realize the power of this kind of marketing and to keep working with it.

Exciting days ahead, that’s for sure.

And I hope you stay on board and learn with me – and even get into it yourself if you haven’t already.

Enough of chasing dreams and selling the dream. It’s time to make our dreams come true.

Stuart Stirling

To your success,

Stu Sensei

57 thoughts on “Why The “Make Money Online” Niche Sucks

  1. Hi Stu.¬† I am one of the 3% who opens your emails because your advice and content is good. ¬† You’re so right about the incessant emails.¬† Some marketers send several each day!.¬† I only usually open about 6 or so emails but the others still keep coming.¬† When will they learn?


  2. List Incest is definitely the main reason and especially with regards to ad swapping. Too many ppl are receiving the same stuff just from different marketers. Honestly, just the other day I received an unsubscribe with the reason being “getting the same rubbish as others” and although this was rare it still leaves me feeling a bit off..

    One change I will make in this area is sending emails that do more storytelling than selling ūüėČ

    As for niche marketing, I truly believe thats what I should have done in my very beginning yet I just got caught up into the mmo world and naturally gravitated toward sharing what I was learning.

    And even though now I have managed to get first page rankings for phrases like make money online tips, I too seriously and absolutely MUST get into other niches. It was mentioned on a webinar that the things us marketers have learned which frequently change in the mmo niche work exceptionally well for other niches where the audiences therein have not caught up to the latest marketing techniques.

    Another point is you do not truly prove yourself to be a REAL marketer until you have established generating income in other niches not related to mmo..

    This is a good post that I may just have to  reference in the near future!

  3. Hi Stuart,

    After 30 years as a self employed building inspector/loss adjuster/assesor and contractor to the insurance industry, with a “name” in the industry, I retired, and decided to go into Internet Marketing. I studied and studied, for 8 months, and finally got to the stage where I thought I was ready. Hah. I went for every new product on the market, and ended up receiving more than 1000 emails a day, each “offer” more confusing than the last. Eventually, I drew up a list of “good guys” and now only open their mail. I also had a revelation. I’m sitting on about 300 expert articles, all written by me, about how to look after your biggest investment, your home. After getting more and more confused with “IM, make money online”, I finally woke up, and said to my wife: “this is a load of crap!! I have a site which caters for what I really know, and I’m going to use all of those articles, and write some more. That’s why I wrote them for in the first place – to help people with my specialised knowledge. That’s both satisfying, as well as providing me (hopefully), with a liveable income. So, while I’ll still dabble with Internet Marketing (I’ve got to do something with the huge pile of PLR’ EBooks etc, some from you, that I’ve assembled), I’m going to concentrate, and expand upon, my niches.

    So… You’re on the right track. Don’t worry about losing a list, or your readers. I reckon more of us will follow you than ever before.

    Incidently, I’ve been looking at Google+ as well, but, according to what I’ve read, it’s still in the beta stage, and you need to be invited to join.

    Keep sending those emails.


    1. Thanks Derek for your support. I’m glad my you consider my emails worthwhile. The IM niche can be pretty frustrating at times.. but I’ve learned now not to compare yourself to others. Just do what you think is right and provide value to the market. The same should be for any niche.

      You have a good plan there to use your articles about keeping your house for your own website. Have you thought about compiling them into an ebook to sell? You could even offer PLR to the whole lot and make an absolute fortune too. All the best and hope to hear from you again.


  4. I’d recommend using the seo traffic to build a list in that Market and then you can sell and you aren’t relying 100% on google

    1. Thanks, yeah good idea. But email isn’t always going to get through. The best would be to have the constant flow of SEO traffic and the email list to email when you need a traffic boost or have a special on etc.

  5. Hi Stu, thanks for seeing the dark side of things then the bright side ūüôā

    True IM-ers relay their niche marketing experiences, as that’s what the vast majority of income on the internet comes form, dating, gambling, health niches, mega-niches, micro-niches etc..¬† IM-ing to IM-ers is just another niche.

    You’re a good marketer, but integrity tends to get in your way… good on ya mate!

    Be happy in what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

    I strongly suggest you pick a micro-niche or two then expand upon the ones you have an interest in, as that’s a sustainable business model, or just find a business model you’re passionate about building and apply massive leverage and action.

    Niche hunting is done better via market research than niche kws research and paying attention to CPC and search volume, as JB told me a long time ago.

    Magazines, supermarkets, ebay pulse, ebay highest # of items, auctions lists, Amazon niches, all that stuff is ready-made pre-built niche and market research that’s REAL, it’s done, it’s there in front of our eyes….

    I hope people reading this apply business models thinking to what they’re currently doing.¬† Mindset’s everything, not everyone is cut out to be a business-person.

    Stu, the sites that are good right now are the sites, blogs that focus on niche marketing (check out nichepursuits dot com, smartpassiveincome, for two such sites I think you’d be good at making yours into)

    Thanks for letting me gust blog, err comment on your site…¬† ūüôā


    1. Dan the Man himself. Thanks for sharing your insights with us! Very good points you brought up there.. about market research in particular. I know it’s easy to fall into the trap of relying on keywords too much and not using your marketing senses.

      I know nichepursuits and smartpassiveincome.. I recently bought the IM game changer course which mentions the latter site. That course also remind us to use our ‘hot niche feelers’ instead of keyword tools. It’s too much fun going into a niche that is just full of hot buyers!

      Thanks again Dan. you’re welcome to guest post.. I mean, comment here any time mate. Stu

  6. Hey man, got this as an email from Dan McG.  Good stuff.  I wish you luck.

    Tons and tons of niches out there.  I do agree, not necessary to build a list as some will say in some of them.

    Adsense works quite well in some niches.

    All the best.


  7. Great post!¬† The game is always changing, so kudos to you for continuing to evolve.¬† Email marketing isn’t dead, but has clearly changed.¬† Smart phones make email available in the palm of our hands, but many of us have learned to treat email as very low priority.¬† Social media won’t take the place of email but it does offer some advantages.¬† Social Media allows us to give priority to the information that comes from those we trust.¬† Social media is becoming a powerful force in SEO as well.¬† Google clearly has big plans with Google+ and so far it seems to be a success.¬† I look forward to reading about more of your successes in niche marketing!

    1. thanks for the input Jeff. I am very keen to get into social marketing too as I see that is where people spend time and attention. Google+ seems interesting.. and might be worth taking a closer look! thanks.

  8. Hi – you are amongst the few IM who actually cares about their members and always give the best advice for us to make sound decisions.
    Thank you – as usual you deliver.

  9. You hit it on the head!!! As far as internet marketers go, however, you are one of the very few that I think has integrity and honesty. I always read your emails because you provide value. I have unsubscribed from many lists… but I enjoy being on yours. You are great!

  10. Hello Stu,
    Brilliant Post!! I agree with what you say, great insight
    many thanks for sharing.

    Good Luck with SEO!! 

    I’ll be anxious to hear more from you OK!

    Much appreciated


  11. Hey Stu,

    I totally agree with you on this.  I have been learning how to build niche sights for the last 8 mo. or so and I really have a problem getting the wp to look good and super hard to write good content. Not even close to making money yet, but I really believe this is still the best way to go.

    I hope as you get going and start learning more on this that you will have time to share all the good stuff with us too.
      I always try and look at your mail, but man, I am getting swamped with crap I have to delete.
     Good Luck

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your comments. Good to hear you’re working on WP niche blogs too. You don’t really have to get your blog to look super good. The more basic it is the better… ugly, home-made looking websites get better results actually!

  12. Hi Stu Рterrific post and I agree 100% with what you say.  In the end, making money online (or off line) is about providing value to customers. 
    It seems there is a bit of a movement developing around marketing ethics – and being ethical is not a fashion accessory, to be used to make money from people.
    Personally, I think working online is great and like any business, you have to evolve with changing¬† market conditions.¬† So, for what it’s worth, you have made a very good decision and I wish you the bloody best with it mate!

    Best wishes,

    PS – have noticed an increasing amount of clickbank accounts being closed down due to promotional guideline violations.¬† Affiliates will also be closed down if you promote a product that does not comply.¬† So if you promote clickbank products on a niche site ….. just promote something that complies with the promotional guidelines.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement and tips Carol.

      Yeah I’ve seen that Clickbank is tightening up on their policies. But I plan to promote physical products and services wherever possible. Not too keen on selling digital stuff these days… unless it’s mine and I know it’s good.

      Thanks again, Stu

  13. Well said Stu – I’ll still open your emails if you keep sending them.¬† I agree 100% with you and myself started something different about a week ago. All the stuff you has been very helpful to me and I thank you.¬† Good luck with your new ventre.

  14. About once or twice a month, I go through that days emails and spend some time hitting the old un-subscribe buttons.
    Apart from getting satisfaction from lowering the email count, I would hope that it is beginning to get some people ¬†to realise – it is not only about the “list” – it is about providing a¬†perceived¬†fulfilment¬†to a need.
    No need, no requirement to keep getting the email which has become junk / spam.   

  15. Hi Stu,

    I too am one of the newbies that reads all of your e-mails and I have bought severaal of your products and been pleased with them. 

    I’m glad I read this post and will be watching for more good ideas to follow with you rather than running down the wrong path with list building that has run out of steam.¬†

    Good luck on your new venture and I know you will do well.


  16. I hate the whole concept of promoting the latest scam too. I just cant force myself to promote a product that I think is the next rip off and I am sick of jv giveaways where people are only on your list for what they can get out of you and no real interest in the niche you are trying to work. Good to hear that just perhaps doing business and remaining at peace with my couscous may actually be possible

    1. Hi Sandy.. you’re right. No one knows how long SEO and niche blogging will last as a reliable business model. But as long as Search engines exist, I think it will stick around for a long time.

  17. Stu, I’m in that percentage of people who read your emails. ¬†You have come across to me as someone who is honest and really has something to offer. ¬†I’ve been a floundering IM newbie, and discouraged and overwhelmed…I have fallen into that deep pool of internet marketers marketing to other internet marketers, and I’m just seeing the same old e-books and software – “list incest” – LOL, you hit the nail on the head. ¬†Keep the emails and posts coming, I’m following you and not the herd! ¬†

  18. Hi Stu, Bob here and I’am trying very hard to make it in Internet Marketing– and I hope I can do it. Bob

    1. Bob, please change one thing.
      Make it ‘I know I can do it’ and I reckon it
      will feel better for you!

  19. hello  stuart  I wish I could spend time with you  and learn from you.I read your emails I just wish I was as knowledgable as you are about this confusing mess.I bought your product and it,s a good deal but I have not  really used any of it yet it,s a alot to comprehend if you don,t have a mentor, PETER

  20. Hi Stu. Good luck. As a relative newbie I have issues with the “List”. The money’s in the list: sure. But if it takes a million facebook & twitter followers and 10 emails a day to generate enough following so that you can eventually convert 1.5 % into sales? I can better spend my time doing SEO for local business. By the way: Although I’ve never bought anything from you – I always opened your mail. You have sincerity and credibility in a sea of fakes.

  21. Nice to see the change in direction Stu…and I see the same issues with email marketing in the “MMO” arena myself (have written about it several time on my blog).

    Solid post.

    1. Hi Joseph… thanks for your comments. You too huh? Pretty much every marketer I know in the MMO scene has noticed drops. And Steve’s reply below is even more evidence of this. All the best mate. Nice blog too. Will have to drop in for a read. Stu

    2. Basically sums up my own observations ..
      Open rates dropped dramatically from about 10-15% not so far as one year ago, down to 4-5% as we speak …
      What is worse though … and I mean no offense to anyone, but that’s how it is … take a look at the geo-locations of your subscribers added in the last year or so in the MMO niche and compare to one year ago – you will understand what I mean.

      You can be TWO John Carlton’s not THE one, and still couldn’t turn the ever dropping CTR into the needed sales…

      Nowadays, MMO has become just a simple p!55 contest – who has the largest list to cope by sheer numbers with the dropping rates.

      What was once considered a good size list of say… 10k subscribers, became laughable now.

      The worst thing is also how many new ‘marketers’ have been lured into mindless ad swapping even before they learned the ropes of running the online business – not to mention their complete lack of a business mindset at all!

      Heh .. man, this should have been a rant on its own!

      Anyway, great post Stu!

      1. “Heh .. man, this should have been a rant on its own!”

        lol.. yeah it’s a good one! I actually haven’t checked the geographics of my subscribers.. but I can guess what you’re getting at…

        These are the same guys and girls who hammer my support desk all day looking for the (free) “magic pill” to make them $300 a day starting tomorrow.

  22. Way too much rubbish and way too many things being described as a ‘cash siphon’ etc. Why do they BS? It kills any follow-up sales and it gives the industry bad name!
    Too many people forget to offer a service because they are more concerned with making money; this leads to poor customer relations and that’s the last thing a business needs!
    Your business was/is covering a fairly wide array of products and competing with some real scum so I think what you are doing is very wise as you can specialize.
    We all know we want buyers, not downlines, MLM etc sure they can make money but usually there is no product needed, just referrals.
    We need to answer search queries and this is best done with SEO. Good luck Stu and be sure to pass on your wisdom!

  23. Hi Stuart, am thinking the same way. The principles of IM are still useful and there’s stuff you need to know, but as a business, marketing to a ‘list’ – well, it’s barely a business, of itself, unless, as you say, you have an amazing relationship with your list – and let’s face it, most of us don’t, even if we pretend we do. Thanks for sharing.¬†

  24. Hi stu.
    I always read your emails as you are one of the internet marketers that has the trust factor. I have a couple of niche websites which I outsource the content creation for. I am pretty good at on page seo but when it comes to off page seo ie backlinking I find it hard to stick to a solid plan.


  25. Stu – Your post puts into words what I’ve thought for some time now – that I get far too many rubbish emails which I invariably don’t open – it takes too much of my time so I am drastically¬†unsubscribing to all but a few trusted marketers (yourself included!). I can’t comment on¬† a list becoming less effective¬†as I don’t have one (yet) & an in process of getting my TurnKey Cash Kits up & running- so I hope I can at least build a small and responsive list here. I would be very happy to look at entering other niches though¬†& look forward to your further comments on this in due course.¬†

    1. Hi Keith, thanks for sticking with me. The Turn-key cash kits are a good place to start and learn the basics of list building and internet marketing, but I don’t recommend you base your whole business around them. You’ve got to get your own original sites and products out there to really stand out. Stu

  26. Thank so much, Stu I must pay more attention on your post ! It’s very helpful for Newbie like me ! G’day

  27. Hi Stu Sensei

    I came to your conclusion at the end of last year. Now 70% of my time is spent on my niche sites and only 30% on the IM market.

    Good luck in your new venture. Yes I do open your emails and ypu do have me on two lists.

    Norman Macey

  28. Like you I have noticed that my emails are not effective any more. I am looking for ways to increase my SEO marketing.
    I will look for more info from you in this area.

  29. Hi Stu,

    If you¬†truly want to help people succeed online, I have a problem you may be able to¬†help me solve. Currently, I’m dabbling in the self-improvement area with a WP site.¬†No sales to date;¬†so, I need to figure out how to make the WP widgets work correctly. How can I connect Twitter, FB, and all the other social media venues to work with my self-improvement blog?¬† There are other problems, but this will help me on the right track to provide useful content for people who need help.

    Good post on the MMO area. Lots of predators in that market.  Thanks for the value.


    1. Hi Bill, I wouldn’t say you’re not getting sales because you haven’t got social sites connected to your site. In most cases, those share buttons and stuff are likely to cause you to lose sales.

      But for most plugins like what you’re looking for, there are usually instructions for how to install and use them on the plugin’s page..¬† http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/

  30. great insight Stu – thanks for the honesty.

    I’ll see you on the other side.

    Wishing all the best
    Dan B. Cauthron

  31. Hey Stuart,
    That’s really great Info.. even i am also looking to shift to these SEO things.. these things really pays off in Long run..

    and I totally Agree with all of your points above.. IM Niche is no more “rosy” now ūüôā

    Smith J

  32. Stu,
    Thank you for the up front reasons for thinking about a change in this niche.  i am one of those taht will open you emails, however I unsubscribe from many more emails than I open.

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