If you’re thinking of starting an affiliate marketing business you probably hear a few terms you are not familiar with. Maybe you’ve heard the term niche site and wondered what is a niche site or a niche website? Maybe you’ve also heard that niche sites no longer work.
In this article, I will explain what niche sites are, give you a few pointers when choosing your niche and tell you if you can still make money by creating one of these sites.
What Is A Niche Site?
A niche site is a website or blog built around a very specific subject or term. This subject is narrowed down from a larger more general term.
You can say that a niche is a group of people, your niche website will provide quality content that will help these people solve a problem or give them information about a product or events in your niche.
A big part of building a niche site is to try and get as much free traffic as possible. This is done by ranking your posts as high as possible in the search engines for keywords related to your niche. To do this you will need to produce a fair amount of content. While organic free traffic from the search engines is great, there are also the options of traffic from social media and paid traffic.
How To Choose Your Niche
Choosing a niche is often a problem for many people, it was for me too when I started!
Building a profitable website means you will be writing and reading about your niche for a long time to come. So choosing something you are passionate about is a great advantage. You won’t get bored and lose interest. This is especially true in the first months when you get the impression you are writing for no one.
When choosing your niche you could start by listing your hobbies and interests, then any special skills you have. If you don’t find any niche ideas by doing this you could go to Amazon then click through the categories and sub-categories. You will find many niches you had never thought of.
These are just a couple of suggestions to help you find your niche there are other ways. Once you have selected your niche you need to check the competition and the opportunities to monetize your site.
Why Not Choose A Broad Niche
You may be tempted to choose a broad niche because there are a lot of searches for example for a term like “weight loss”. But the number of searches is just one metric to be considered.
You also need to consider the competition. The “weight loss” niche is a huge billion dollar market so the competition is rude. If you start a site aimed at weight loss you won’t be able to compete with the big companies who have whole teams producing content and researching. You will need to dive deeper into the niche to find a smaller sub-section.
For example, you start with weight loss > weight loss for women > weight loss for women over 40 – already you’re getting to a more specific group a people, but you could make it even more specific by niching down further – weight loss supplements for women over 40.
You can compare the number of competing sites in the image below. Although there are still quite a few sites competing for the same keywords, the sites will be much easier to outrank. There won’t be many large companies or authority sites, so you can go into this niche and know you can achieve good rankings.
Another example chickens > keeping chickens > keeping chickens in your backyard > build your own chicken coop
The further you niche down the less competition you will have. But at the same time, there is still usually an audience for the information you give and the products you promote. As a focused niche site, you will be able to address specific questions or specific problems your audience may have. This is something a general or broad niche website will struggle to do.
Better Search Engine Rankings
Another advantage of niching down is you will probably finish higher in the search engines. This will depend on the keywords you choose but it will be easier to rank for keywords specific to your niche rather than more general keywords. It’s true these keywords will have less traffic but they will also have less competition.
Many beginners go after keywords that have a lot of traffic, on occasions I have made the same error. But no one sees their work because they’re on the twelfth page of Google. Most people don’t go past the first page. So it’s better to be on the first page of Google for a keyword that gets 50 searches per month than on the sixth page for a keyword that has 20,000 searches.
Specific Terms Are More Likely To Attract Buyers
When people search for general terms they are still probably at the stage of acquiring information. When they start to get more specific they have a good idea of what they want.
If we take my example of a broad niche “chickens” or “keeping chickens”, people are just searching for general information. Perhaps they are just thinking of getting some chickens in the future. They’re probably not interested in purchasing anything at the moment.
When they start looking for “build your own chicken coop” they’re getting serious. They probably want plans and materials which give you an opportunity to make some money with affiliate products.
A Few Niche Websites Ideas
Just to make sure you’ve understood the idea of niching down here are a few examples:
- Gardening > garden tools > motorized garden tools > ride on lawn mowers > Honda ride on lawn mowers
- Pets > cats > cat breeds > hypoallergenic cat breeds
- Cameras > underwater cameras > underwater digital cameras
- Golf > golf accessories > wearable golf accessories > golf watches > golf GPS watches
- Sports > running > marathon > training for a half marathon
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head I haven’t researched the feasibility of creating a niche site for these subjects.
When choosing your niche remember to do your research, always check the competition and make sure there are affiliate programs you can join. It’s also a good idea to do a little keyword research to identify the keywords your audience uses and to get an idea of the questions and problems they may have.
Different Types Of Niche Sites
There are some different types of niche sites that range in size from having just a few pages to 100’s of pages.
These are like the “Sniper sites” promoted on Google Sniper. Micro niche sites might still work if you find a product to promote with very little or no competition but in general, Google prefers larger sites. It used to be possible to make money with micro sites but with the changes to the search engine ranking algorithms, it’s now much harder to get ranked. And if you’re not well ranked you won’t get any traffic.
A niche site has many more pages. Although there are no hard and fast rules something in the range of 20 to 200 pages would be normal. This will depend on the topic you have chosen and your goals for the site.
There are also different ways you can make money with a niche site, you could choose to promote affiliate products, sell your own products or include AdSense.
An authority site differs from a niche site in that its goal is to become the ultimate resource for that subject. The website will gain the trust of its readers by providing high-quality content and also ensure a pleasant user experience.
Your authority site will build its reputation by helping people, once you have helped them out once or twice they will start to read more of your posts and keep coming back. This should be seen as a long-term project and takes a lot of time to be successful.
As an authority site, you shouldn’t promote any dodgy products. Although whatever model you choose I would only promote products that you would use yourself.
Building Your Niche Site
However, I recommend using self-hosted WordPress due to its ease of use, versatility and functionality. In addition, you have complete control of your site which is not always the case with some of the other site builders.
My favorite site builder is Site Rubix. You need to complete 3 simple steps and your WordPress site is created in a matter of seconds. If you use Site Rubix you avoid the process of having to install WordPress on your hosting.
Here is a very brief guide on setting up your site.
Once you have picked your niche you then choose a domain name. A few tips on choosing your domain name:
- Keep it as short as possible
- Aim for a .com if possible, if not .org or .net
- Don’t use any trade marks
- Make it pronounceable
- Don’t use numbers or hyphens
- A keyword in your domain name may help people get an idea of what your site is about and could give you a very slight boost in the search engines. But being brandable is just as good think Google, Amazon or Bing.
Hosting and Installing WordPress
When you have decided on a domain name hosting is the next step. It is possible to host a site for free but is not recommended, you will have certain restrictions and adverts on your site. Paid hosting is quite cheap $8 – $10 per month.
Now you’ve selected your host you will need to install WordPress. Most platforms now make it very easy and have step by step instructions.
Select A Theme
With WordPress installed you will need to choose a theme, there are 1000’s of free themes to choose from. The theme determines the look or design of your site. One of the great things about WordPress, you can change your theme whenever you want. And once your theme is installed you will be ready to start adding content to your site.
You will also need to install a few plugins to help protect your site from spam and to get your site ready for the search engines. Plugins are tools to give your site additional functionality and as with most things in WordPress, many of them are free.
Plugins can be added at anytime when you decide you need extra features or functionality.
Organize Your Site
With the foundation of your website now set up, you will need to start writing content. Before starting on your content it would be a good idea to think a little about the structure of your site.
Taking the “build your own chicken coop” idea for a niche site, you could break up your site into the categories you plan to have. For example Chicken Coop Plans, Chicken Coop Materials, Accessories, Raising Chickens, Chicken Breeds, Chicken Health & Predators
This gives you a good idea of the subjects you can cover and although I hadn’t considered this niche, I can see from these possible categories there are certainly lots of possible posts.
If this was a niche that you had researched a little you should already know about the problems, questions, and subjects people in your niche want to know about. When doing your keyword research you will come up with other content ideas.
A niche site is a work in progress so you will probably change or add categories, change posts, and even your target niche market may change slightly. This is all part of the process of building a niche site.
Each article you write should be optimized for a keyword. So prior to writing a post you need to find a keyword that has some searches every month and as little competition as possible. To do this using a keyword tool will save you a lot of time and give you all the info you need in a couple of clicks.
Everyone seems to have their own set of metrics for choosing a keyword. If possible I like to choose a keyword that has some traffic and less than 100 sites competing for the same keyword. As long as a keyword has some traffic I don’t worry too much about the volume, the most important criteria for me is the competition.
Ranking your post on the first page of Google is the most important point. As you will be writing many posts even if they only have traffic of 10 or 20 every month multiply this by the number of posts on your site and it adds up. And it’s worth remembering your posts will also be ranked for variations of the keyword, which again will increase your traffic.
Content is the nuts and bolts of your website. You will be writing unique articles that share your experience and give information, product reviews, how-to articles, tutorials and guides, lists (the 10 best…) When starting you should write as often as possible and complete at least one article per week. Don’t copy content from other sites, your articles should be unique.
One point to bear in mind when writing content online it’s not the same as writing offline. People reading online tend to skim the articles, they don’t read every word. So you should have lots of headings and short paragraphs.
There are a few places you should include your keywords, in the: title tag, meta description tag, image alt tag… for more info see this post. If you follow the instructions your posts will be optimized for the search engine, so you should achieve a good ranking.
There are few pages that you should include on each niche website you build.
- About page
- Contact page
- Affiliate disclaimer
Calls To Action
Don’t forget to include a call to action(CTA) in most of your posts. Your CTA might be an image, button or ligne of text that prompts or encourages your visitor to take action. For example, you might want your visitors to click your affiliate link or join your email list.
Remember you’re trying to build trust with your visitors and if you’re always trying to sell something your readers may find it irritating. So include some content without CTA’s.
Monetize Your Niche Website
There are several ways to monetize your site:
- Affiliate marketing – you promote other people’s products and get paid a commission when someone purchases the product after clicking on your affiliate link. If you’re getting started I would recommend this model.
- Google AdSense – you display ads from the Google AdSense network on your site. You can choose where you place the ads which can be relevant to your niche or based on your visitor’s search history. The amount you earn per click varies from a few cents to a few dollars. You will most likely only earn a few cents per click so you really need a lot of traffic to make money from AdSense. There are other platforms similar to AdSense such as Media.net or Infolinks.
- Selling your own products – this could be a digital product such as eBook, an online course or a membership site. Alternatively, you could create and sell your own physical goods that are related to your niche.
- Sell advertising space – once your site has some good traffic you might find companies related to your niche that are interested in buying advertising space on your site.
Pros and Cons Of Building A Niche Site
Low Start Up Cost
All you really need when you start is a domain name and hosting. A keyword tool would be useful but is optional, you can get all the information you need for free but it will take you more time. Later you may decide you want a premium website theme but to start a free theme is fine.
If you’re a beginner getting some training will make things easier. My #1 recommended program includes step by step training, hosting, keyword tool and support. There will be a cost but if you have never built a site it will be worth it.
2. Relatively Simple
The method of making money from a niche site is quite straight forward. You produce content related to your niche and include links to the products you are promoting. Although I said it’s relatively simple there are some steps where some training may help you:
- Choosing your niche
- Keyword research
- Setting up your site
- Writing content
- Adding calls to action
Good training will save you a lot of time and get you earning money much sooner. To get to a position where your site is earning money regularly takes a lot of work, but is definitely possible. Many people make money this way!
3. Good Income Potential
If you have chosen a good niche there will be a solid potential income. Later you can add more niche websites to grow your income but when starting concentrate on just one site. Although you won’t start earning right away, depending on your niche and the amount of work you put in, it can be possible to earn your first commissions in a few months. You will get results faster with a niche site rather than a more general blog.
4. Passive Income
While it takes a lot of work, it is possible to have your niche site earning a passive income. If you’re not sure what a passive income is, it’s an income you earn on a regular basis while putting in little effort to sustain it. This means once you have put in the work on your site, it continues to earn you money without you having to do anything. It runs on autopilot!
1. Can Take A While and A Lot Of Work
Building a niche site isn’t a turnkey system, it will take a lot of work, effort, and determination. So don’t expect to earn anything quickly. Especially with Google’s current ranking system, it might take a few months before you see your posts ranking unless you have a keyword with very little competition.
Creating content is perhaps the most important part of building your site, so you need to have the ability to write. You don’t need to be an excellent writer but you should have decent grammar and spelling capabilities. There are free resources such as Grammarly that can help you with this.
2. At The Mercy Of The Search Engines
Most niche sites depend mainly on the search engines for their traffic, this is great when your site is ranking well but a change in their algorithm and you might lose your rankings and all your traffic. Only use white hat SEO or ethical SEO methods and you will probably escape any search engine penalties. But it’s good to have some other sources of traffic such as social media, referral traffic, and a start building an email list just in case.
Cost Of A Niche Site
As I mentioned before one of the great advantages of a niche site is the low start up costs.
To get your site online all you need is a domain name about $13 per year and hosting $8 – $10 per month. A good keyword tool will make things much easier but there is a cost of $19 – $25 per month. The cost of all this per year would be about $350.
Alternatively, you could join an online internet marketing course and get training, hosting, a keyword tool and support for $49 per month. This works out at $588 per year if you pay monthly or if you pay yearly the price comes down to $359.
If you’re willing to make the commitment for a year, then for just a few dollars extra, you can have training, tools, support and hosting for up to 25 of your own domains. This would definitely be my choice but if you’re not sure there is a free trial.
Do Niche Sites Still Work Today?
Yes, they do, niche sites aren’t dead. What is dead is the low-quality sites that are put together quickly with a few inferior articles. Google has made sure the sites with poor content don’t rank highly.
Niche sites that work today provide quality articles and information, they are here for the long-term. You might see people saying that niche sites don’t work anymore, but they probably put up micro sites with thin content. Or they started a niche site then only gave it a few months before starting to say niche websites don’t work.
It’s most important to remember this is a long-term plan you probably won’t see even a modest return for a number of months. You need determination and patience to make this work, don’t be under any illusions that this is going to be easy.
Sites that provide useful relevant content, are updated regularly and carry out white hat SEO stand a good chance of being successful. Yes, Google may change their algorithms but if you haven’t used any underhand methods to achieve a good ranking you should be fine.
You can check out the Google Webmaster Guidelines to get a good idea of what Google are looking for and what techniques to avoid.
After reading this post I hope you now know what a niche site is.
Building a niche site and making it profitable is a long-term project and can be daunting at times. But starting a site built around one of your passions can be an enjoyable way to earn some extra cash or after a while, this may even replace your regular job.
Start with a focused or narrow niche and gradually build up your site. Write lots of unique quality content giving useful, interesting information. Help to solve problems or answer questions your readers might have related to your niche. Write for your readers, not the search engines. Make sure you carry out your SEO correctly. Take these steps and you should do well!
The search engines try to give their audience the best results possible, which means quality content. If you try to make money without producing quality content, if you have any success it will only be short-lived. Keep this in mind when building your website.
Niche sites work today and I think they will around for a while. But no one really knows whether they will still be working in a few years time. A few years ago micro niche sites were all the rage but now authority sites seem to be recommended by most internet marketers.
Creating a website is quite easy these days, nothing to be scared of. However, building out your site with content is a lot of work, be patient and determined, watch your niche site grow and attract visitors and finally watch the affiliate commissions come in.
Good luck with your niche site!
I hope you found this post useful, if so feel free to share on your social networks.
I would love to hear about your experiences with niche sites or micro niche sites.
Or if you have any comments, questions or remarks please leave them below in the comments section.