In my recent post How I Make 6 Figures Passive Income With Niche Websites I gave an overview of how I make a full-time living online with the popular strategy of building niche content sites and making money from them with affiliate marketing and Google Adsense.
In that post I promised a detailed follow-up guide to teach you exactly how you can build your very own profitable niche site or blog with the aim of creating a side income of hundreds, or thousands of dollars per month.
After countless hours writing, researching, and carefully analyzing all of my past successes and failures over the past 9 years with building niche sites – I’m happy to finally share this guide with you all.
I was initially going to make this a paid course but I’ve decided to give it away for free.
This guide is a comprehensive, step by step tutorial that will take you by the hand and show you everything you need to know, from A to Z and in detail, to building a profitable niche content website from absolute scratch.
You can find all sorts of random information floating around online about succeeding with this strategy, but there isn’t a thorough, step by step and 100% up-to-date guide that covers the entire process all in one place.
Plus, most people who teach how to build niche sites don’t actually make much money, if any, from this strategy. I’ve been making a full-time living for years with this strategy and so I feel almost obligated in a way to share this information because I know there are many people who could benefit greatly from this comprehensive step by step guide.
This guide is long and detailed, but remember to just take it one step at a time and at your own pace.
Don’t be overwhelmed – at first it can seem complicated especially if you’re new to this. But once you get the hang of it you’ll realize it’s really not all that hard. It just takes time (but the payoff can be SO worth it – trust me on that one).
The 7 Steps to a Profitable Niche Site
This is what you will learn in this free course, with this part being the first of 7:
- Part 1 – Introduction to Niche Sites and the Pros and Cons (you’re reading this part now)
- Part 6 – How to Build Your Niche Site, SEO Guidelines, & Effective Monetizing (coming 2016)
- Part 7 – How to Market Your Niche Site with Link-Building, Social Media, Email, & PPC (coming 2016)
How This Guide Can Give You An Edge
Creating a niche content site or blog is a very popular strategy to make money online, mainly because it’s quite easy to get started with.
But the reality is, most who start a new site will either give up on it within a few weeks or months when it doesn’t start making money, or their site will never really earn more than a few dollars here and there.
What most people lack is a proven and effective plan that covers the entire process.
In other words, they’re missing the details that will make or break a content site, and when it comes to building a niche site that turns out highly profitable – success is in the details.
That’s where this guide comes in.
The aim is to give you every possible chance to succeed in creating a significant side income in due time with a new niche site.
It takes time to build an information site from scratch and have it start earning you decent money, but if you simply follow each step carefully and take your time with it, you’re bound to see results if you simply stick with it (many people quit WAY too soon on a new site).
I will aim to keep things as simple as possible here, but not any simpler because there are certain details you can’t overlook if you want to build a site that lasts and earns you a solid online income.
But don’t worry, starting a niche content site is actually one of the more simpler ways to start an online business, and you don’t need any prior experience or advanced technical know-how.
What are Niche Sites Exactly?
In a nutshell a niche site is simply a content website or blog that is focused on a specific topic/market.
A large news website wouldn’t be considered a “niche site” because it provides information on broad topics. Neither would a site about general health and fitness, or general cooking, or a personal blog about your life.
But a site about a sub-niche of health and fitness, such as chicken recipes, Paleo diet, weight training for women, or treadmills would all be considered niche topics (note these are just random ideas from the top of my head – I’m not saying they’re necessarily good ideas for a niche site..we’ll get into idea brainstorming and analysis later).
An ideal niche topic for your site is one that isn’t too broad, but isn’t so crazily narrow either that there’s not a big enough market to offer a decent amount of information to.
A big part of building a niche site is to rank it as highly as possible in the search engines for certain keyword phrases related to your niche so that your site attracts as much free search engine traffic as possible.
Whilst organic search traffic is a large focus with creating a niche content site – as it should be because there’s nothing better than thousands and thousands of free visitors coming to your site every day – it isn’t the only strategy you can use to gain traffic (and it shouldn’t be – always diversify). But don’t worry we’ll get to traffic building later.
Some people say that in this day and age creating a niche content site isn’t going to get you anywhere, or that it’s too hard to rank well in search engines, or that there’s too much competition..and so on.
But make no mistake: building a content site as a strategy to create an extra income stream is alive and kickin’ in 2015 and you can do very well if you have good (and up-to-date) strategies and you’re patient with it.
Content websites will also continue to be an effective strategy for years to come because people will always come online to search for written information.
Niche Site vs Niche Blog?
I also want to whole “site vs blog” thing cleared up too because I know a few of you may be wondering what the difference is and which one you should create.
Technically, a blog IS a type of site, and it’s the preferred way to organize a content site these days. So if you start a “niche site” these days you are technically more than likely starting a blog.
Blogs are typically organized chronologically and updated fairly regularly, whilst a standard site on the other hand is more “static” and usually isn’t ordered chronologically.
You don’t have to worry about the difference because whether you’re creating a site or blog these days they are built the same way using the same tools, and it’s easy to switch between the two layouts.
It’s just a matter of how you structure and present your pages. Some niches lend themselves well to more of a “static” site layout, whilst others work great with a blog layout.
So from now on when I say “niche site” just know that I’m referring to BOTH niche sites and niche blogs.
How Do Niche Sites Make Money?
There are many different ways to turn the visitors that visit your niche site into an income. These are the most common and what I recommend you start with:
This is where you promote other people’s products and earn commissions on every sale. This is the most popular and for good reason – it’s simple and effective and there’s no shortage of products out there for you to promote.
For example if you have a site with information about laptops, you would find an online store that sells laptops (ie Amazon) and send your visitors there by recommending certain models on your site.
Then every time someone buys one you will earn a certain percentage of the total purchase price.
Another very common way to earn money from your site is by displaying ads from a free ad network with the most popular being Google Adsense.
You place their code wherever you want on your site and they will do the work for you by displaying targeted ads related to your niche, and whenever a visitor of your site clicks on an ad you’ll earn anything from a few cents to a couple dollars depending on your niche.
This used to be a primary strategy to earn online but today it’s more of an additional strategy because in most niches you’ll only earn a few cents per click and so you need a ton of traffic to make good money with this strategy alone.
Sell Your Own Digital Product
Instead of promoting other products via affiliate marketing, you could also create your own information products and sell them on your site.
This is another very common strategy, but if you’re new I would definitely start with affiliate marketing first and then potentially work your way to this later on.
There are a ton of options here including writing an eBook providing certain valuable information related to your niche, creating an online video/audio/written course, starting a membership site, or even creating and selling your own physical product related to your niche.
Another way to earn from your niche site is to set up advertising deals with related businesses. In other words you’re selling advertising space on your site to other companies.
If you’re quite knowledgeable and have experience in your niche then you could offer specialized 1 on 1 or group coaching to your visitors who need more of a helping hand if it fits well with your niche.
You could do this through Skype calls or email, or even face to face in person.
As an example, let’s just say you have a site helping people with certain workout routines. You could offer specialized coaching packages where you offer customized programs based on their goals and specific circumstances.
There are other ways to monetize a content site but these are the bread and butter and what you should start with.
With just 1 or 2 of these strategies you can do very well. On my own niche sites I currently use a combination of affiliate marketing and Google Adsense for good results.
Pros and Cons of Building a Niche Site
Some marketers who preach to you a certain strategy to making money online may be biased and will push any potential downsides to the strategy to the side in the hope that you buy their product.
But I’m not trying to sell you anything here and I’m all about taking an objective look at everything.
The following are what I believe to be the benefits and potential downsides to creating a niche site as a way to start an online business and create an extra side income.
Though I must say that the “cons” are only potential cons in my opinion and simply things you want to be aware of before starting a site.
On top of that, the pros heavily outweigh the cons and I truly believe that for many people creating a niche site is one of the easiest ways to get started online.
Niche Site Pros
Pro #1: Simplicity
Out of all the ways to make money online out there, creating a niche content site or blog is definitely one of the simplest strategies.
The essence of what you’re doing is writing articles related to your niche and promoting related products – there’s nothing complicated about it.
Even the niche research, keyword research, site creation, marketing is all relatively straightforward if you have someone to show you the steps.
Pro #2: Easily Automated
If you’re not aware of what passive income actually is (also known as residual income), it’s simply money earned on autopilot (ie without you having to work) from a business or an investment.
Niche sites lend themselves well to passive income because once your site is established enough and receiving a steady stream of traffic it will basically run by itself making you money whether you’re working or not.
It’s always best to continually improve and add things to your site but when you take breaks from an established site it will likely continue along its merry way.
Pro #3: Flexible Way to Make Money Online
As I mentioned earlier in this post there are plenty of different strategies to earn money from a content site.
Pro #4: Solid Income Potential
Of course this will all depend on your niche’s profit potential, but with simple content sites or blog you can go a long way and potentially earn a life-changing income as I have managed to do (I can currently live off the income of just 1 of my own sites).
You can also build as many sites as you want in various niches to diversify, but as I’ve mentioned above I’d recommend focusing on building larger, more authoritative sites rather than a ton of mini-sites.
I would take 3 medium sized content-rich sites over 10 mini content-thin sites any day.
Pro #5: Low Start-Up Cost
All you really need to get started is to pay for hosting and a domain name for your site – I started my most recent niche site last year for under $100.
Paying for things like a premium keyword research tool, premium website theme, designer etc is totally optional.
Niche Sites Potential Cons
Potential Con #1: Can Take a Long Time to Make Money
It can take quite some time before your site starts to get ranked well in the search engines with a new site, so don’t expect to make much money, if any, in your first few months or so.
This definitely isn’t a con in my opinion, as the majority of online strategies take time, but when building a content site from scratch patience is especially important.
But I must add that earning with a niche site can be a lot faster than say building a personal blog (which can take years) if you pick a niche that doesn’t have too much competition and you do effective keyword research and marketing/link-building.
Potential Con #2: Requires Good Writing/Content-Creation Ability
Although you CAN outsource the content-creation to other people – I would recommend most people create their own stuff so that you have total control of the quality and usefulness.
These days content quality matters more than it ever has, and the more competitive your niche the more it matters.
But don’t get me wrong you don’t need to be an amazing writer – I can assure you my own writing isn’t anything special AT ALL and I do well.
You just need to have fairly decent comprehension, grammar, and spelling abilities and be able to explain break down topics for other people.
Potential Con #3: Heavy Reliance on Search Engine Traffic
Niche sites typically rely heavily on organic (free) traffic from search engines (especially Google) which means your site will be somewhat at the mercy of the engines and whether they like your site or not.
BUT, the good news is that there are many effective ways to diversify your traffic to safeguard your business from changes in your search rankings, AND the fact that if you stay on the good side of Google and his friends you shouldn’t have a problem with getting a lot of consistent free traffic for years to come.
Overall, in my opinion creating a niche content site is an excellent strategy that will suit many people, especially if you already have some sort of specialized knowledge or interests in areas where people are searching for information online and spending money.
Setting Yourself Up for Content Site Success
I’d like to mention a few important things to help you get the most out of this tutorial and with starting a successful niche site that is built to last.
Avoid Micro Niche Sites
Creating “micro” niche sites where you quickly slap up a handful of average quality (at best) pages and hope to make a quick buck is NOT what I recommend at all.
This used to be a common strategy among internet marketers, but these days it’s a lot more difficult to pull off because search engines do not give much weight to low-value, thin-content “micro sites”.
It’s not a viable long-term business strategy. Google loves larger, more authoritative sites with lots and lots of content-rich pages, and so do readers. That is and always has been my own strategy.
You want to offer as much value to your site visitors with the aim of becoming as much of an authority in your little niche as possible.
This is the only real way to build a site that will likely stand the test of time and continue earning you an income a few years down the track.
This is the exact reason why my very first niche site that I started 9 years ago is still doing very well to this day – I had the long-game mindset from day one and was in this for the long haul.
I highly recommend you take a similar approach and build a site with AT LEAST 50 pages (I would personally aim for at least 100 to be safe) so it becomes a valuable, detailed resource in your chosen niche.
Be Prepared to Work for It
Remember that you’re building a business and you’ll only get out what you put in, so be prepared to work hard especially in the initial first few weeks or months of building your site’s base.
It’s not get-rich-quick strategy (good luck finding that) where you aim to make a quick buck and run – it’s a totally legitimate and honest way to create an income and a valuable long-term business that can realistically change your life.
If you’re really busy day to day and you have little time for this, just put in whatever hours you can in your spare time.
There’s no rush and you can slowly build up your site over time.
This is how I first started online and I built my first site with only a few hours per week (I had a full-time job) and I did well.
Also, don’t get discouraged if you get stuck along the way. I’m here to help, and every single step of the process is learn-able and doable even if you’ve never done anything like this before.
Stay Tuned for Part 2!
This first part of the niche site series has hopefully give you a solid foundation to start with and you should have a good idea of the potential of creating a niche site and also why it’s a great strategy that will suit many people.
The upcoming parts of this complete tutorial contains the real meat and bones of the process.
In the next part I will take you by the hand and show you many effective current ways to easily find many potentially profitable ideas that you could build a site around.
Then in part 3 we will closely analyze your list of niches and choose the most profitable and the one that you have the highest chance of succeeding with. Parts 4, 5, and 6 will cover the nitty gritty of actually building your site and growing it.