Making money online is a dream scenario for most people. Who wouldn’t want to make money and have the flexibility that can go along with an internet-based business?
Although many people would love to make money online, most people simply don’t know where to start or how to go about it. If you’ve been discouraged because of a lack of results from your own efforts to build an online business, or because you’re not even sure where to start, you’ve probably read about all different types of ways to make money online, with none of them really standing out as the right approach for you.
If that’s the case, you may want to consider creating a niche website. While there are a lot of different possible side hustles and ways to make money online, creating niche websites is one of the most realistic and practical for most people. As a result, it’s one of the first things I recommend if you are just getting started and looking for a way to make some money online.
That being said, creating a successful niche website is not easy. It takes work and some patience. In this guide I’ll cover all the basic steps that you need to take to give yourself a great chance at creating a site that generates income for you.
There are a few other side hustles that I also recommend, and I have written detailed articles on those as well. Here are the links in case you want to read them:
- How to Start a Blog
- How (and Why) to Get Started as a Freelance Writer
- Complete Guide to Selling Private Label Products on Amazon (FBA)
What is a Niche Website?
The definition of a niche website will vary, depending on who you ask. In general, a niche website is a site that is tightly focused on a specific topic. When it comes to blogs and information-heavy websites, they often get classified as either “authority sites” or “niche sites“. An authority site or blog often covers broad topics, publishes a lot of content, and aims to become an authority on the subject. An example of an authority site would be CNN.com. On that site you’ll find articles on topics of news in all different categories. CNN publishes new content all the time, and of course, CNN is a recognized authority when it comes to news.
But a blog or website doesn’t need to be a globally-recognized brand or attract millions of visitors to be an authority site. Most personal finance blogs, including Vital Dollar, would be classified as authority blogs. They publish content frequently on all topics related to money and finance, and their goal is to become a recognized authority in the industry.
On the other hand, niche blogs and websites tend to have a narrow focus, publishing content that is all tightly related. For example, a niche site could focus on a topic like camping. Rather than publishing articles related to all types of outdoor activities, the site would focus exclusively on camping.
Niche websites also tend to be highly-optimized to rank in Google searches for their chosen keywords. These sites depend on free traffic, mostly from Google searches, so they create content with the intent of ranking high in the Google search results.
Examples of Niche Websites
Let’s take a look at a few real-world examples of niche websites, which should help to clearly identify what we’re considering a niche site. All of the examples listed here are well known because they are popular in their niche. A lot of people, myself included, would prefer to let their niche websites fly under the radar to avoid a lot of people creating sites to compete with them, so I don’t want to expose anyone’s site aside from those that are already widely known.
Baby Gear Lab
Baby Gear Lab is a successful niche site that focuses on all types of products related to babies and parenting. They publish a lot of helpful product reviews, as well as other types of articles. Even the articles that are not review posts still feature products, and of course, the site makes money through affiliate programs when people purchase the products that are reviewed or mentioned on Baby Gear Lab.
Best VPN is all about VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). They publish a lot of reviews, list posts, and other articles that are related to VPNs. Of course, the site makes money through affiliate programs for the different VPNs that are featured on the site.
Runner Click reviews many different products related to running, including shoes, clothes, supplements, and more. The blog also publishes other types of articles that will be of interest to runners. Like many other niche websites, Runner Click makes money from the affiliate programs of the products mentioned on the blog.
These 3 examples are all well-established, successful websites with a lot of content. Don’t let these sites intimidate you. Your site doesn’t need a custom design or anything fancy to have success, although you would have the option to do that in the future.
Why Create a Niche Website?
With all of the different possibilities and options for making money online, you may be wondering why creating a niche website is a good idea. Niche websites are extremely popular with both beginner and advanced internet marketers, and there are several reasons why. Here is a look at just a few reasons why you might want to consider creating your own niche website.
1. Avoid the Most Competitive Search Phrases
Getting quality, free traffic is one of the biggest challenges for most bloggers and website owners. The most ideal way to get free traffic to your site is to rank at or near the top of Google searches for words and phrases relevant to your topic. But getting on Google’s first page for competitive words and phrases isn’t easy. Many niche website owners target “low hanging fruit”, Google searches that don’t have much competition.
Let’s take a look at an example. One of the recent posts on Baby Gear Lab is titled “The Best Double Umbrella Strollers of 2018.” The word “stroller” or “strollers” is probably a very popular search phrase that gets a lot of searches each month, but there are also many websites competing to earn the top rankings. This post probably ranks extremely well for search phrases like “best double umbrella stroller”, “double umbrella stroller”, and “double umbrella strollers 2018”. These phrases are searched much less frequently than a term like “stroller” or “strollers”, but Baby Gear Lab can rank at the top of these Google searches very easily because they face far less competition.
With a niche website you can create each blog post to target a specific search phrase, or a few phrases. If you have a decent number or articles/pages on the site, you can attract a lot of traffic since each one should have a good chance of ranking well in Google. Not only does it add up to a good bit of traffic, but your content will be extremely relevant to people who are making these searches.
Another reason why niche websites are so popular is flexibility, and they are flexible in a few different ways. First of all, you can create a niche website on just about any topic you can imagine, so you have a lot of flexibility on topics. You can pick something that interests you and then do some research to find a good niche that would give you a possibility to create a profitable site. We’ll talk more about the specifics of choosing a niche later in this article.
Niche websites are also flexible in terms of your working hours. You can work on the site in your spare time. Whether you have 2 hours a week or 20 hours a week, a niche website is a possibility. Building an authority site usually requires you to be a little more consistent with the time you spend on the site, in terms of creating content and being active on social media. It’s hard to build a good authority site if you have big gaps between your blog posts, but that’s not as much of a concern with a niche website.
3. Everything Can Be Outsourced
One of the things I really like about niche websites is that you can outsource every aspect of the site. Technically, you can outsource everything for any type of website, but its easier with niche websites. The articles published at your niche site can be easily, and affordably outsourced. You can even outsource the keyword research to find topics for articles. And you can also outsource link building, although I suggest that you’re very careful about who you outsource link building too, otherwise you can easily wind up with a penalty from Google for unnatural link building.
If you’re new to niche websites I recommend that you do everything yourself at first, so you get familiar with the process. But you can pretty quickly start to outsource a lot of the work.
4. Passive Income
Passive income is something that everybody is looking for, but it’s not easy to accomplish. With a niche website there is definitely work involved in getting it set up and attracting traffic, but once the site is profitable and running smoothly it can be more hands-off than a lot of other types of online businesses. This is especially the case if you’re outsourcing the majority of the work.
5. Simple Monetization Options
I’m not saying it’s easy to make money with niche websites, but I am saying that there are monetization methods that are quick and easy to implement with niche websites. Most niche sites make money from AdSense (or other display ads), affiliate links, or both.
AdSense is one of the easiest monetization methods, even if it isn’t the most lucrative. As long as your site abides by the terms of AdSenese, all you need to do is sign up and paste the AdSense code into your website.
Amazon’s affiliate program is also very popular with niche websites. Amazon sells so many different products that you can find something to promote for just about any niche imaginable. And like AdSense, the Amazon affiliate program is pretty quick and easy to implement. You just sign up and use affiliate links whenever you are mentioning a product in your articles. You can also use native ads and other types of ad units that Amazon offers.
Compared to other monetization methods like creating and selling your own products (regardless of whether we’re talking about digital products or physical products), offering services that take a lot of your time, or creating a membership website, AdSense and affiliate programs are quick and easy to implement.
6. You Can Focus on Something You Like and Know
With so many different topics and niches that you could select for your site, it’s possible, and even recommended, that you select something that really interests you. Take it from someone who has been working on building websites for more than a decade, it’s much easier and more enjoyable to work on a website when you really care about the topic.
Not only is it more fun, but you’ll be able to work faster and do a better job. If you’re creating a site on a topic that you know nothing about, you will need to research everything. But if you already know the topic well, you can probably write the articles pretty quickly.
Before we get into the steps of creating your own niche website, let’s take a look at some resources that I personally recommend. I’ll go into more details about each of these resources as we look at the different steps to building your website.
SiteGround (web hosting) – There are plenty of different companies that you can choose for hosting your website. I recommend SiteGround because from my experience they are the best option, and because I use their services for my own websites. I’ve been a SiteGround customer for more than 5 years, and I have several different sites that are currently hosted by SiteGround, including VitalDollar.com. Bluehost is popular with a lot of bloggers and niche website owners. I’ve also used Bluehost for several years and they are good too. I like SiteGround a little better because sites load faster and because their customer service better than any other host in its class.
WordPress – WordPress is a content management system that you’ll use to power your website. It’s free and easy to install, and it makes it very easy to manage and maintain your website/blog with no technical knowledge, no need to mess with code, and no need to hire a designer/developer. For step-by-step instructions on how to install WordPress please see How to Start a Blog.
KWFinder – One of the keys to building a profitable niche website is keyword research and finding the low competition search phrases that will make it possible for you to get Google search traffic to your website. There are a lot of different keyword research tools that you can use, and we’ll look at more of the details later. My favorite is KWFinder, because it’s easy to use and very powerful.
Elegant Themes or Thrive Themes – One of the things you’ll need to do is choose a WordPress theme for your site. A theme is basically a template that controls the look and layout of your site. WordPress comes with a few default themes, you can download many free themes, or you can buy a premium theme. If you’re on a really tight budget a free theme is ok for getting started, but I recommend upgrading to a premium theme when you’re able to afford it. All of my sites use themes from Elegant Themes or Thrive Themes.
I highly recommend building an email list for your niche website. With an email list you’ll be able to stay in touch with people who are extremely interested in your topic and encourage repeat visits to your site. You can also use the email list to promote affiliate products, or even your own products if you decided to create products down the road. I use ConvertKit to manage the email list for Vital Dollar and it’s extremely powerful. Aweber is another popular option that I used in the past for several years. Aweber’s pricing starts cheaper than ConvertKit, and while it doesn’t have all of the same features as ConvertKit it is pretty powerful as well, and can certainly get the job done.
Steps to Creating a Profitable Niche Website
Ok, so now that we’ve covered what a niche website is, why you might want to create one, and some recommended resources, let’s take a look at the specific steps you can follow to build your own niche websites.
Step 1: Choose a Niche
The first step is to pick the topic that you want to cover with your website or blog. While this is an important step, a lot of people get really hung up here and they never make it past the first step. Don’t let that happen to you.
Consider the factors that are mentioned below, make a decision, and move forward. Don’t feel like you have to make the perfect decision here. Many people who are successful with niche websites failed at their first attempt. Of course, it’s ideal if you have some success with your first site, but it’s a learning process. Even if you fail at your first attempt, by taking action and working on the site you will have gained knowledge and experience that may help you the next time around.
So here are some factors that you want to consider when you’re selecting a niche or topic for your site:
Ideally, it Should Be Something That You Enjoy
As I mentioned earlier, it’s a lot easier to work on a website when you really care about the topic. Building a website takes a lot of effort, so why not work on something that you enjoy? It’s also a lot easier if you have at least some knowledge of the subject, and the more expertise you have, the better.
When you’re just getting started and you have no idea what niche you should select, make a list of things that interest you and go from there. You can think about the industries you’ve worked in, things you like to do with your spare time, and skills that you have.
Products to Promote
Once you’ve got a few ideas for possible niches, check to see if there are products that you could promote in your content. Since affiliate marketing is one of the best and easiest ways to make money from a niche website, ideally you’ll want to select a niche that has several different products and types of products that you could promote in your content.
You could use the Amazon affiliate program as long as Amazon sells some products related to your topic, which they probably do. You can also use popular affiliate networks like Clickbank, CJ, FlexOffers, ShareASale, and many others. Or, many websites and companies manage their own affiliate programs. If you’re not sure if a website has an affiliate program check their footer links. Many sites will link to their affiliate program in the footer of their site. If you don’t see anything, do a Google search for “WebsiteName.com affiliate program.” If they have an affiliate program the Google search should help you find it.
Narrow, but Not too Narrow
When it comes to selecting a niche you can either go broad or very narrow. Let’s take a look at an example that I mentioned earlier, a site on topics related to the outdoors. The outdoors is pretty broad, so you may want to narrow that down a little. A narrower choice would be to create a site specifically on camping. Camping is a fairly narrow niche, but it still gives you a lot of options. You could write about tents, pop-up campers, sleeping bags, hammocks, backpacks, cooking appliances and utensils, and many other products and topics related to camping. You could even do informational articles about camping in specific locations (article example, The Top 10 National Parks for Camping). Now, a super narrow example of a niche would be to focus on hammocks. On this site you could write about hammocks and hammock straps, but probably not a whole lot else. I personally like to avoid the super narrow niches like this because there are just not as many possibilities for content.
I also recommend that you think about trends and be sure that any topic you choose is not going to be irrelevant in a few years. For example, if you create a niche site on electronics there will always be new products and new technology, so that topic will always be relevant. But if you had created a site about VCRs you would be getting very little traffic today because VCRs are no longer relevant.
Can You Brainstorm 50 – 100 Article Ideas?
Once you’ve found a topic that you think might be a good possibility, I recommend brainstorming to see if you can come up with at least 50 – 100 different ideas for possible articles that you could publish on the site. If you can only come up with a few ideas the niche is probably too narrow.
This may sound like a difficult exercise or a lot of ideas to come up with, but for the right topic it’s really not that difficult. And it’s definitely not time wasted, because if you decide to move forward and create a site in this niche you can use this list for keyword research and to create your initial content.
To see how easy it can be, let’s take a look at the camping example. You could write an article on the best 2 person tents, and then follow the same formula to write articles for the best 4 person, 6 person, and 10 person tents. You can also write articles reviewing specific tents, so that could get you many different articles. Other topics could include best two-room tents, best tents under $100, best tents under $50, and best lightweight tents. Those topics are only on tents. Now go back and do the same thing with sleeping bags (best sub-zero sleeping bags, best sleeping bags under $50, etc.), backpacks, hiking boots, and any other products that would be relevant.
As you can see the ideas pile up pretty quickly. And those are only product-related articles. If you brainstorm other camping-related articles there will be countless more ideas (tips for camping with young kids, how to start a camp fire, camp fire safety tips, how to safely store food when you’re camping, etc.). If you’re struggling for ideas, browse through some other blogs that cover similar topics and see what they are writing about.
I suggest keeping your article ideas in a spreadsheet so you don’t lose them and so you can easily access the list in the future.
The strength of competition that you face will have a big impact on how easy or difficult it is for you to have success with your niche website. Analyzing competition can be a little tricky, but we’ll try to keep it simple. We’re going to use KWFinder to analyze competition for a few search phrases to see if we can realistically rank on Google’s first page of search results.
KWFinder is a paid tool, but if you’re on a tight budget there are a few options. First option, you can research a few search phrases each day with a free account. This gives you all the data you need, but you’ll be limited to only researching a few phases per day, so it will take some time to get through your list of ideas.
The second option is to sign up and pay for one month, and then cancel the service. If you’re paying monthly, the cost of the cheapest plan is $49. For that price you’ll be able to do 100 searches per day, so in one month, or even one week, you could easily research several different niches that you are considering.
The goal of using a keyword research tool like KWFinder is to find search phrases that have enough search volume without too much competition. KWFinder will analyze the results on the first page of Google for each phrase that you enter, and it will provide you with a Keyword Difficulty (KD) score of 1 – 100. The higher the KD score, the higher competition you will face to rank at the top of the Google search results. So you want to find keywords/phrases with as low a KD as possible. Our target is going to be a score of 30 or under. A phrase with a KD of 30 or less is generally pretty easy to rank for, and that’s what we’re looking for.
The second factor that we want to consider is search volume, which is the number of people using this phrase in a Google search. KWFinder will show the average monthly search volume (estimated) in the past 12 months. If no one is searching for a phrase it doesn’t matter how easy or difficult it is to rank. How much search volume is acceptable is a matter of opinion, for the purpose of this article we’re looking for at least 500 searches per month.
The last factor we’re going to look at is the Domain Authority (DA) of the pages currently ranking in the top 10 on Google. DA is a measure of the strength or authority of a website, which tells you how easy or difficult it will be to outrank. We’re going to use 30 as our goal for DA as well. We want to find search phrases that have at least 3, and preferably more, of the top 10 Google search results with a DA of 30 or less.
KWFinder provides us with all of the information we need here, so let’s go ahead and look at an example. As a reminder, here are the 3 criteria that we want to meet:
- Keyword Difficulty (KD) score of 30 or less
- Monthly search volume of 500 or higher
- At least 3 of the current top 10 search results with a Domain Authority (DA) of 30 or less
We’re trying to find at least 10 phrases that match all of these 3 criteria. If we can find at least 10 search phrases that meet these criteria it will give us a good starting point and we should be able to create some content, get it to rank (in time), and get traffic to the site.
Go back to the camping example, I started by searching the phrase “best sub zero sleeping bags under $100”.
I started with this phrase because I thought it would be low competition, and it is. The KD score is 27, so it’s considered easy to rank for and it meets our criteria of a KD of 30 or below.
Next, let’s check the search volume. KWFinder isn’t estimating any search volume, so that’s not good. It may be easy to rank for, but if no one’s searching for the phrase we don’t want to target it.
So at this point I know this phrase will not meet our criteria because it fails in search volume, but let’s go ahead and look at the Domain Authority (DA) as well just to complete the process for this example. At the right side of the screen KWFinder gives us the DA for each of the pages ranking in the top 10. We want to see at least 3 with a DA of 30 or less. This phrase has 6 results with a score of 30 or less, so we’d meet that criteria. But since it failed the criteria for search volume, we’ll move on and look for better options.
One of the great things about KWFinder is that it also gives you a list of suggested searches. Even though the phrase that I entered doesn’t meet the criteria, KWFinder helps me to find other ones that might be better. Just quickly looking at the suggestions I can see a few that might meet the criteria.
For example, “best backpacking sleeping bag under 100” has 590 search volume per month and it’s showing a KD of 25. Both of those meet our criteria, but sometimes when you click on one of the results to see more details the KD will change. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but that’s the case with this result. When I click on it to see more details the KD goes up to 31, which is 1 point over our criteria of 30. The good news is that 5 of the top 11 search results have a DA of 30 or below, so it meets our criteria.
It’s showing 11 results here instead of 10 because Google is showing a featured snippet at the top of the results, so there are actually 11 links on Google’s first page of search results. So this one meets 2 of the 3 criteria, and it’s missing the 3rd criteria by 1 point. If I were researching this for myself I would probably count this one as a match. The difference between a KD of 30 and 31 is minimal, and otherwise it looks like a good possibility.
So now I would mark “best backpacking sleeping bag under 100” on my spreadsheet and I would look for nine other phrases that meet the criteria. Then later I would use these phrases to determine the articles that I create for the site.
That shows the basic process of researching keywords and phrases with KWFinder. You can also use a free tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, but you won’t get the KD score and it makes the research harder.
Don’t Obsess. Pick Something and Move Forward.
I mentioned this earlier, but I want to put it here too because I think it’s really important. It’s very common to get stuck trying to decide between a few different topics. If you don’t get started you’ll never have success, so pick something based on your research and move forward. If you find a topic that you like and you’ve found at least 10 good phrases that you can use to create articles, take action and move forward with creating the site.
Step 2: Get a Domain Name and Web Hosting
After you’ve picked your niche, the next thing to do is choose a domain name for your site. I highly recommend going with a .com, because it’s easier for your visitors to remember. Finding a good .com can be a challenge because so many of them are already taken. The best tool I’ve found for this is Lean Domain Search. You enter a keyword that you want in your domain and it will give you a list of suggested domains that are available that include your keyword and one or two other words.
Once you’ve found a domain name that you like, you can go ahead and register the domain and get web hosting at the same time. I highly recommend hosting your niche website with SiteGround (you can read my full review of SiteGround’s hosting here). I use SiteGround to host many different sites, including VitalDollar.com. They have amazing customer service and your site will load quickly on their servers. When you sign up for hosting with SiteGround you can also register your domain name at the same time.
SiteGround has several different packages. If you’re just getting started I recommend either the StartUp ($3.95 per month) or GrowBig ($5.95 per month) plans. The StartUp plan only allows you to host one website, so if you have multiple sites you’ll need the GrowBig account. I recommend starting low because you can always upgrade easily whenever you need to.
Bluehost is also very popular with bloggers and niche website owners. I have several years of experience as a Bluehost customer as well, and they’re a good option too. Their prices are slightly lower than SiteGround’s, but your pages will load faster with SiteGround and that is really important. And although Bluehost offers good customer service and support, it’s not at the same high level as SiteGround, in my opinion. So for those reasons I prefer SiteGround.
Step 3: Install WordPress
WordPress is a free Content Management System (CMS) that makes it easy to manage your website or blog with no need to code anything and no technical experience. SiteGround makes it very easy to install WordPress.
If you’ve never used WordPress it may sound pretty intimidating, but don’t worry, installing it is very easy. All you really need to do is click a few buttons in your hosting dashboard. I have a full step-by-step guide on how to get hosting with SiteGround and install WordPress. Please refer to that article and you should have your website set up in no time.
Step 4: Get a Logo Designed
Although it’s not 100% necessary, I do recommend that you get a logo designed for your niche website. Since the site is new and you’re not making anything from it yet you don’t want to spend much money, but thanks to sites like Fiverr you can find designers who will create a logo on the cheap. I’ve hired this designer for $5 logos several times, and the results are pretty good, and certainly budget-friendly.
Step 5: Pick a WordPress Theme
A theme will be the template that controls the look and layout of your WordPress-powered website. WordPress comes with a default theme, but I recommend changing that if you don’t want your site to look generic. Your options are to choose a free theme or pay for a theme. Personally, I always avoid free themes because they tend to not be coded as well, and because it’s difficult or impossible to get good customer support if you’re using a free theme and you have an issue.
All of my sites use themes either from Elegant Themes or Thrive Themes. My favorite theme is Extra from Elegant Themes. To use a theme from Elegant Themes you’ll need a membership account, which costs $89 per year. That gives you access to all of their themes and plugins, updates whenever they release a new version, and customer service.
I’m also a fan of Thrive Themes. You can get one of their themes for $49, which includes one year of updates and support. Or, you can get a membership for $19 per month that gives you access to all of their themes and plugins.
If your budget is really tight it’s also possible to get started with a free theme and then upgrade to a premium theme later once you’re making some money. I like to start with the premium theme so I can get the site set up and looking the way I want right from the start, and so I have access to support in case I have a question, but that’s not 100% necessary.
Step 6: Install Plugins
Plugins add specific functionality to WordPress. There are a lot of great plugins that are available for free, and others that you can buy. There are 4 free plugins that I recommend you install:
- Antispam Bee
- Yoast SEO
- Contact Form 7
- EWWW Image Optimizer
If you want to see more about how to install plugins, what these plugins do, and other things you should do to get WordPress set up optimally, please read my article 11 Important Things to Do After Installing WordPress. That article shows you exactly how to get these plugins working on your site, and much more.
Step 7: Choose a Monetization Strategy
There are several different ways to make money with a niche website. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options:
Google’s AdSense program is possibly the easiest way to monetize a website or blog. All you need to do is sign up and add the code to your site and you can make money whenever someone clicks on the ads. Your site will need to meet the terms specified, but just about any site is eligible as long as it is not in a few categories that are banned (like content related to gambling, weapons, drugs, etc.).
While AdSense is easy to set up, it’s usually not the most lucrative option. I use AdSense on a few sites, but it’s not my preferred way to monetize a site. I’d recommend that you consider the other options listed here and only use AdSense to supplement other monetization methods.
Amazon Associates is the affiliate program of the world’s leading online retailer. While it’s not quite as easy as AdSense, using the Amazon affiliate program is also pretty easy and is possible with just about any site or blog. You can use your affiliate link to link to any product on Amazon, or to link to search results for a specific phrase. If a visitor clicks through your link and makes a purchase within the next 24 hours you will earn a commission.
The percentage of commission that you’ll earn varies depending on the category of the product, but most categories are around 4%. While the commission percentage is low, you can also benefit when people click through your link and then buy some totally unrelated product (which happens all the time with Amazon). Amazon Associates is a great opportunity and it’s something I recommend using on your website. Some niche website are built to make money exclusively with Amazon Associates, and others use it in combination with other monetization methods.
Aside from AdSense, there are other ad networks that you can use to monetize your site. However, many of the best options are not available to new sites. Ad networks like AdThrive and Mediavine require publishers to have a certain number of pageviews before joining. While it may not be an option for your brand new niche site, it’s something to keep in mind for the future once your traffic grows.
Aside from Amazon, there are countless other affiliate programs that you could use. The options will depend on the niche that you’ve chosen, but regardless of the niche you’ll probably have at least a few affiliate programs that you could join. As an affiliate you can promote products and services that are relevant to the content that you’re publishing.
Some ecommerce sites will manage their own affiliate programs, and others will use major networks like CJ or ShareASale. You can also search affiliate networks like Clickbank, FlexOffers, and MaxBounty to see what opportunities would be a good fit for your site.
There is a lot of earning potential for a good niche website with the right affiliate programs. Regardless of what other monetization methods you choose, I highly suggest that you look for some products or services that you could promote on your niche site as an affiliate.
There are a lot of companies that are interested in partnering with blogs and websites to promote their products through sponsored content. The sponsored content could be a review published on your blog, an informative article that mentions their product or service, or a promotion on your social media profiles. Depending on the size of your audience and your influence, you can make a good amount of money with sponsored. However, with a new site it will take some time to build up your audience. I would recommend not worrying about sponsored content until you’ve established your website.
Selling Your Own Products
Creating and selling your own product is not the fastest or easiest way to monetize a website, but it is possibly the most lucrative. This could be a digital product that you sell through SendOwl or some other platform, or it could be a physical product. If you’re selling a physical product you could sell it through your site with Shopify, WooCommerce, or any other e-commerce platform. Another option is to sell the product on Amazon and use the niche site to funnel traffic to your product’s listing on Amazon.
This is another monetization method that I wouldn’t recommend starting with, unless you already have a product and you’re setting up the niche site specifically to get more exposure for your product.
Generally, the best strategy is to use a few different monetization methods. For most niche websites I recommend starting out with Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs that are a good fit for your site. As your site grows you can consider adding things like display ads, sponsored content, or even creating your own products.
Step 8: Start Creating Content
At this point you’re ready to start creating content for your niche site! In step 1 you put together a list of article ideas and did some keyword research to find low competition phrases you can target with your articles. Now you get to create some of that content.
Of course, there are a few different ways to go about content creation. You can write all of the articles yourself, or you can outsource all or some of the writing. Many people write all of their own content at the beginning to keep expenses down. Even if budget isn’t an issue, I recommend doing at least some of the writing yourself at the beginning so you get more familiar with the process and you’ll be able to provide better instructions to freelancers if/when you do decide to outsource the content creation.
If you decide that you would like to hire a writer to create some content for you there are a lot of different sites that you can use to hire freelancers or to order content. I usually post a job listing Upwork (it’s free to post a job) and let freelancers bid on the work. Be as specific as possible about the type of content that you want, and how long it should be.
The prices will vary from one freelancer to another, but I’ve paid as little as $8 for an article for a niche site by hiring freelancers at Upwork. The quality of work will also vary a lot at Upwork, so be sure that you’re really checking the writing samples of whoever you hire and not just choosing the cheapest person.
There are a lot of different types of content that you can create for your niche site. This will partly depend on the niche that you choose. I want to give specific examples so I’ll go back to the example I used earlier of a niche website on camping. Here are some examples of content that could be created:
- Best Products (“Reviews of the Best 4-Person Tents”)
- Product Reviews (Review of a specific model of tent)
- Brand vs. Brand (“Coleman Tent vs. Field and Stream Tent”)
- Buyer’s Guides (“How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots”)
- Informative Articles (“How to Protect Your Food from Bears and Wildlife While Camping”)
- Tutorials (“How to Start a Campfire”)
- Tips (“10 Tips for Safe Family Camping”)
- Roundups (“The Top 40 Camping Locations in the U.S.”)
- Video (“How to Set Up a Tent”)
Those are just a few examples and ideas. There are plenty of other possibilities, but that should help you to get started.
Since many niche websites are monetized with Amazon affiliate links, a lot of them tend to only publish product reviews and roundups of the best products of certain type. But those sites often turn off visitors because they can see that all you’re doing is creating content to include as many affiliate links as possible.
I recommend including a variety of different content types, including some informative articles, or even videos, to make the site feel more balanced and more useful for visitors. It’s still possible to include affiliate links in other types of content. For example, an article on safety tips for family camping might include affiliate links to a few products that be relevant to the information in the article even though it’s not a full product review.
Even if your content doesn’t have any affiliate links it can still be beneficial for helping your site to have a more legitimate appearance and for attracting traffic to your site. Product reviews are good for getting search traffic, but not so good for social media traffic. Roundups, informative articles, and videos are much more likely to get social media shares, which could bring an entirely different audience to your site.
Step 9: Social Media
Most niche websites are created with the intention of attracting search traffic, but that doesn’t mean you need to ignore social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can also be excellent sources of traffic. Pinterest is my favorite social media site for traffic generation, and a lot of bloggers are getting great results with Pinterest.
The down side to social media is that it will take some time and consistent effort. I recommend picking one social site to focus on. You can have profiles on other sites and share links to your posts, but if you try to master every social network you could easily spend all of your time on that alone. So my advice is to pick one that you think would be a good fit for your site, and be active and build up your profile on that site.
Step 10: Link Building
In order to maximize the search engine traffic that you get from Google, you’ll need to get some other sites to link to your site. Google search results are a bit of a popularity contest, especially for more competitive search phrases. Each time another site links to your site it is basically a vote for your site. But not all votes are equal. A link from a strong, established site will be much more valuable for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than a link from a blog or site that has no authority.
Getting links from quality websites can be difficult. Fortunately, with niche websites you usually don’t need to get a lot of links. If you’ve done a good job of targeting low-competition keywords you can rank your site with just a few links. It’s important to note that new sites and blogs typically get almost no traffic from Google searches the first few months. Google tends to make you prove yourself first, and it may take 6 months or more before you really make any headway with search engine rankings.
Here are a few link building possibilities that can work well with niche websites:
When you create a profile, most social websites will allow you to add a link to your own website or blog. In many cases these links will be “nofollow”, which means Google will not factor them into the search engines rankings, but don’t worry about that. Nofollow links can still have some benefit. They help to give you a natural link profile, and they’re a good place to start with link building for a new site. Here is list of sites where you can create a profile and get a link.
When you leave a comment on another blog you can, in most cases, include a link back to your own site. You shouldn’t include the link in the text of your comment, as that is usually be viewed as spam. But typically there will be a field where you can enter the URL of your own site, and then your name will be a link back to your site.
Don’t go overboard and leave thousands of blog comments, but getting some links this way can also help to build a natural link profile. Start by finding some relevant blogs in your niche, and then try to leave just one comment each day for a while, and pretty soon you’ll have a decent number of links from blog comments. Also, make sure that your comments are useful and show that you actually read the article that you’re commenting on.
Infographics are a favorite link building approach for many website owners and marketers. The idea is to create an attractive, helpful infographic that will other bloggers will want to publish on their own blog, with a link back to your site.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a designer. You can hire a designer on Fiverr or Upwork to create an infographic for very little money. I’ve paid $20-$25 to have simple infographics designed, and of course, you could spend a lot more for a really high-quality infographic.
Once you have the inforgraphic designed you can publish it at your site, along with an article to go with the infographic. You can then submit it to different infographic directories and get some links that way, and you can also reach out to other blogs in your niche to see if they would be interested in publishing it. In general, you’ll get the best results if you also offer to write a few paragraphs of original text for other bloggers if they publish your infographic.
For more information you can see this article on how to use infographics for SEO.
One of the best ways to get links to your site is to write guest posts for other blogs. Most blogs will include an author bio where you can link back to your own site, and in some cases you may also be able to link to your site from the body of the guest post. A link in the body of the post is preferable, but some bloggers won’t publish guest posts with links in the body.
You don’t need to do a lot of guest posting to have an impact for your niche website. I’d recommend starting by just finding 5 blogs on related topics where you can publish a guest post. These blogs won’t always be in the same exact niche as you, but they should be in related niches. Going back to the example of a camping website, maybe your guest posts would be at sites that focus on topics like fishing, hunting, or even family travel. All of these topics can be connected to camping, but none of them are likely to be your direct competition.
Step 11: Build an Email List
This step is not absolutely necessary, but it is highly recommended. It’s possible to build a successful niche website without an email list, but having an email list can only help. With an email list you’ll be able to get more traffic to your new articles, promote affiliate products or your own products, and you’ll have a little bit of protection in case your traffic from search engines or other sources drops.
I recommend using a service like ConvertKit or Aweber to manage your email list. I use ConvertKit for the VitalDollar.com email list, but I’ve also used Aweber with other websites in the past. ConvertKit is very powerful, but Aweber’s pricing starts a little lower. So if you’re looking to keep costs down you can go with Aweber.
The best way to attract new subscribers is to have some kind of lead magnet, which is just a free resource that you give to people in exchange for their email address. Things like e-books, checklists, and other downloads work well as lead magnets.
Services like ConvertKit and Aweber will allow you to create your own forms that you can put on your site so visitors can easily sign up. If you want to have more flexibility in the types of forms you can use, and in their design, you can use a plugin like OptinMonster or Thrive Leads. I use both of these plugins at my websites and they’re both awesome, but it is an added expense. It you’re starting with a limited budgeting you can skip the plugin for now.
Step 12: Ongoing Keyword Research and Content Creation
The core aspects of building site are keyword research, content creation, and link building. With most niche websites you’ll need to continually work in these areas. You can do keyword research every couple of months to find a bunch of topics for upcoming posts. I’d recommend outsourcing at least some of the content once your site starts making some money.
Link building is hopefully not something that you’ll need to do constantly, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re adding some new links here and there so your site’s authority continues to increase.
Niche websites are a great way to make money online. There’s all kinds of possibilities, you can work on something you know and enjoy, and you can work on the site in your spare time around your own schedule. There’s also possibility to make very good money with a niche website, and successful niche sites are usually easy to sell if and when that time comes. You can also outsource almost all of the work, so the possibility for a passive income is there.
Now that you’ve read through this article you just need to get started and make it happen. If a niche website seems like a good fit for you, start by finding the right niche, then get web hosting and start to build your site. Best of luck!