I’m Scott, a digital entrepreneur driven by a passion for online business since my teen years.
During my third year at university, I undertook a year in industry where I discovered affiliate marketing and SEO.
Post-graduation I immediately started building websites, leveraging what I had learned to start my 3D printing blog 3DSourced – which now makes 5 figures of profit every month.
Beyond 3DSourced, I plan to start a social enterprise project in London, focusing on aiding the homeless and food insecure – but that might be a few years away!
Initially, when I started my first site, it was more about pursuing a passion than a calculated business decision.
At that time, I was thinking of monetizing the site through ads for some extra beer money, without realizing that I had stumbled upon an amazing niche in high-ticket affiliate marketing.
Once the blog started getting a bit of traction, it became clear that there was huge demand – and the space was relatively underserved.
What did you do to become an expert in this area?
In recent years, Google’s method of ranking content from truly established sites has shaped my approach significantly.
It’s so important to be able to show genuine expertise, especially in a field as specialized as 3D printing.
At the start, I was more of a hobbyist than a ‘real-life’ expert, so I adopted a strategy of using stats-as-support (SAS) to reinforce the credibility of my content.
Several of these stats posts got picked up by other 3D printing/manufacturing sites, which lent some credibility to 3DSourced when we were starting.
As the team grows, it’s so important to have a team of knowledgeable and passionate writers to generate in-depth content.
I generally use Reddit to find people who are genuinely interested in 3D printing, and let that passion shine through.
It’s much easier to train someone how to write than to train them to love your niche!
How 3DSourced.com makes money?
3DSourced.com leverages organic traffic from Google and Bing by producing high-quality, engaging content that ranks high on search engines.
With this traffic, we generate revenue through affiliate marketing. When a viewer purchases a 3D printer we recommend, we receive commissions from companies like Anycubic and Elegoo. This model is so effective because it aligns directly with our content’s purpose – to inform and guide consumers in their purchasing decisions.
The reason we have such great margins is that I wrote hundreds of articles upfront before we made any money. Once an article is published, it’s relatively passive in terms of generating income (apart from when a new printer comes out and a piece needs updating).
As such, you get this nice compounding effect of getting paid for everything you wrote last week, last month, last year, and so on.
During the holiday season, we capitalize by curating content on top deals from our affiliate partners.
Given the nature of our niche, 3D printers and related products are popular as gifts during the holiday season, which works to our advantage.
We make a concerted effort to hit our newsletter subscribers with this curated list of deals multiple times, ensuring maximum visibility and engagement.
How do you create content that people love?
Writing 2,000+ words of content every day, and formatting it myself, for years, is utterly invaluable. You begin to notice the minutiae in content.
It’s not enough to just bombard people with information, you have to truly understand what is important to different segments of the audience, and help them filter through the noise to find what is right for them.
We always start by asking: What is a person thinking or seeking when they type a specific keyword into a search engine?
Our goal is to precisely understand this intent and work out how we can truly assist our readers.
This approach involves a deep analysis of the target keywords and the audience’s potential queries and concerns.
This strategy is about more than just ranking well in search engines. You get that benefit through putting the reader first, by increasing the average time spent on the page and reducing your bounce rate (it’s my feeling that Google factors these things into their rankings).
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
Looking ahead, the vision for 3DSourced.com is to evolve from a blog into a brand. We need to expand beyond our current reliance on Google for traffic.
This year, we’re diversifying into Pinterest, email newsletters, Facebook, and YouTube to mitigate risks from Google updates as search engines increasingly adopt generative AI (affecting our visibility).
We hope that these investments should break even and continue to grow by the end of the first year, but for now they they do require investment in new team members to get them off the ground.
Fortunately, their work has been aided by the implementation of – you guessed it – AI tools.
Facebook captions, YouTube scripts, email roundups – with the right prompts, these can all be produced from our blog posts with the click of a button (which makes the whole thing seem less daunting).
Eventually, I intend to take £2 million out of the company to fund my social project, aiming to provide a million meals to those in need. But that’s long-term!
What are the main obstacles in running a niche website?
Scaling 3DSourced.com while maintaining quality posed a challenge.
It’s one thing to know what works; it’s another to systematize your instincts for others to follow effectively.
So I’ve been focusing on getting my SOPs dialed in, producing templates and instructional videos to provide more scalable coaching for my team members.
I want everyone to understand not just what needs to be done, but how to do it to meet the high standards we set.
I’ve come to realize that if a team member is underperforming, it’s usually because there’s something unclear or unmeasured in the systems I’ve told them to follow!
3D printing is always changing, so we have to keep our guides up to date to remain accurate/helpful.
Every 3 to 6 months, we revisit each article to assess whether it needs updating. This could adding details about new products, or correcting outdated information about what’s possible in 3D printing.
I find that updating existing content delivers significantly better ROI than endlessly creating new articles – especially for a site that has been in the game for a while.
What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Just Starting Out?
It’s important to understand that success won’t come overnight. It took my site around eight months to reach a job-replacement level of income, which was about $4,000 per month. This timeline can vary, but the key is to be patient and persistent.
There will be setbacks – for example, I experienced a significant dip in income when Amazon cut its commission rates in April 2020 and had to build back up.
If possible, start your website business under circumstances where you have minimal financial pressure. In my case, living at home with my parents gave me the space to create without rushing the early stages of my site.
And be prepared to spend countless hours, alone, working on your site. This could mean writing content, researching your niche, or learning about SEO.
In the beginning, there wasn’t a defining ‘click’ where everything just fell into place. Rather, it was my stubbornness and commitment to the process that kept me going.
I continued to produce content – around 100 posts – even though I was getting barely any traffic.
The results eventually came from an unwavering belief in the potential of 3D printing as a niche – and I’m relieved it paid off!
That said: Embrace the role of a ‘friendly, comfortable expert.’
This is a principle I always emphasize to my writers. It’s about striking a balance between connecting with your audience on a personal level and exuding confidence in your knowledge and opinions.
This doesn’t mean being arrogant or dismissive, but just having confidence in your expertise. And that comes from expertise/immersion.
Your audience will pick up on this and are far more likely to care about what you have to say.