Category Archives: Blogging

Posts about blogging, social media, and other online life

How to Take a Niche Website from Idea to Execution

Creating niche sites is a great way to make money online or to quit your day job and work for yourself full-time. There are a number of ways you can make money with niche sites, including affiliate products, advertising, and selling your own products and services. Depending on the niche and the monetization method you choose, you can even use these sites to create passive income — meaning that after you set the site up, you don’t have to keep working on it actively to continue generating revenue.

If you are thinking of getting into creating niche websites, here are the basic steps you need to know to take a niche website from idea to execution:

Find Your Niche

The first step, of course, is to determine your niche. You can start by brainstorming all the topics that are interested in or that you have some experience with. For example, maybe you enjoy playing guitar, or perhaps you have training as an HVAC technician. Your sites could discuss how to select the best guitars, the most effective methods for teaching yourself to play the guitar, or how to get your HVAC training or start your own HVAC business.

Having some knowledge or interest in the subject matter will help you create an authentic site and one that really provides value for your readers.

Do Keyword Research

Once you have a few ideas for your niche site, it’s time to test the potential profitability of these ideas. Do keyword research using the Google keyword tool or another keyword tool to find out how many searches are being conducted for keywords in that niche and how much competition there is for those keywords. Then check the cost per click on advertising that you could get on the site.

Typically, you should look for keywords that have at least 1,000 searches per month and have low competition. You can target keywords that get millions of searches each month, but you’re likely to face some stiff competition, and it will be very difficult to set yourself apart and get traffic to your site.

Set Up Your Site

After you have found a potentially profitable niche, go ahead and register a domain name that reflects your keyword. Make sure your domain name is easy to remember and isn’t too similar to one of your competitors. (You don’t want your visitors to accidentally go to your competitor’s site instead.)

Install your site using a free site builder or an easy-to-use platform such as WordPress. You don’t have to have a fancy design with all the bells and whistles. A solid framework with good content will be all you need to set up a quality site. Just be sure that whatever host you use allows you to sell advertising or to use the site for commercial purposes.

Choose Your Affiliate Products

Selling affiliate products is one of the best ways to make money with your niche website. They often pay a higher commission than the revenue you would earn from advertising, greatly increasing your income potential.

You should choose your affiliate products before you place the content on your site since your products should inform your content. Knowing what you are going to sell will help you know what kind of content you will need. Browse the affiliate products available and pick one (or a select handful) that fits within your niche and that has a good reputation. Selecting a quality product that your readers will actually need or enjoy is one of the most important factors in the success of your site.

Get Content

After you have determined what products you will sell, you can start populating your site with content that compliments the product offerings. This can include reviews of your product or informational articles that back up the need for your product. For example, if you are selling a diet e-book or supplement system, you might include articles about foods to help burn fat or exercises that get fast results.

There are several ways you can get content: Write it yourself, pay a freelancer to write it, or get free articles from content sites like ezine articles. Your goals for the site should determine what you choose. If you want to rank your site high in search results, then getting free articles (which will be duplicated on other sites) is not a good idea. However, if you know you will buy advertising to promote your site instead of trying to use SEO, then you can use duplicate content.

Place Products and Ads

Placing links and banner ads for your affiliate products and your AdSense or other advertising is an art. There are many articles and books written about best practices. In general, you should try to place them in a way that is organic to the content. This can be in the form of text links in the articles, or it can be a link at the end of the article when readers are ready to take action.

Be sure your banners are visible — in your sidebar, your header, or above the fold on your page — but don’t allow them to clutter your page or take over your content. You want your ads to get noticed — not to annoy or alienate your readers.

Get Traffic to Your Site

The last step in getting a niche site up and running is to get traffic to your site so you can get readers and start making sales. There are two ways to do this: SEO or PPC.

SEO — or search engine optimization — will help your site to rank higher in search results, so that your site is one of the first that people see when they search for your keywords. SEO takes a lot of work, and it requires use of keyword phrases in your content and page elements, the use of meta tags and descriptions, increasing the load time of your site, and more. SEO is an ongoing effort that also takes much practice and experimentation.

PPC — or pay-per-click advertising — just requires that you pay money for advertising for your site. This is also a skill. PPC requires that you set a bid price for what you will pay each time someone clicks on your ad. The higher your bid, the more likely your ad will be seen when someone searches for your keyword. If you are in a crowded market, you could easily spend hundreds of dollars a day on PPC advertising. The key is to find a good bid that balances your budget with your need to remain competitive.

Starting a niche site is a relatively easy process and a great way to make money online if you are successful. However, like most business ventures, it requires a lot of research, a lot of trial and error, and a little bit of luck. These steps will help you take your site from idea to execution, but you’ll have to go the extra mile with your own research and savvy to make the site a success.

Have you started a niche site? Share your tips for success in the comments!

Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she’s been researching grants and how to get college grants. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3. To keep her sanity she enjoys practicing martial arts and bringing home abandon animals.

A beautiful magazine style skin for Thesis your niche site needs now!

I recently started a brand new site that I intend to be an online magazine about cats, and I knew I had to get just the right theme for it. I’ve tried free magazine themes and oh they often turn out to be such a PAIN. And every time I’ve done that, I’ve always ended up coming right back to Thesis because of all the wonderful and easy ways it handles everything for me. Not to mention the amazing SEO, which is the whole point, right?

Anyway, I came close to buying a premium magazine theme or even buying a new framework so that I could get a magazine child theme, but then I discovered the Laveo skin for Thesis. I love it! The home page is fully widgetized, so you can have that big slider anywhere on the page you like, and you can also put those news widgets anywhere. There’s also hot news widget which I’m not currently using since my site is so new.

Although I love the colorful look that the designer has shown in the demo and adopted it for my own site, you can put in any colors you want for any and all of the news widgets and the categories in the menu. You can make all of them the same color or use two colors or three – it’s totally up to you. And when you want to do something crazy that’s not in the admin area, there’s prompt and friendly support via forum and email.

Check out the Laveo skin and see if you can’t think of a project or two you must have it for! And if you like cats, I’d appreciate a friendly comment on the new site, too! :)

Update February 2013:  I asked in the support forum if this skin will be updated to support Thesis 2, and the author said that it should be updated this week!

Cloud Blogging Review

I bought Cloud Blogging within the very 24 hours after Glen Allsopp promoted it to one of his groups of subscribers, and if you’ve read any posts or ebooks by Glen before, you understand why I was “hungry” to read anything new he had to tell us. Also,he doesn’t have a lot of products out there – in fact this is only the second he has promoted on ViperChill – so I knew I had to have it. He told us that Cloud Blogging is the most definitive guide to growing a profitable and popular blog, and that was good enough for me!

I actually thought I was buying an ebook, but I was happy with that, because the price is very reasonable, and I was tired of searching for answers to all of my questions and sometimes starting all over and getting derailed on my projects. I didn’t realize that I had just purchased lifetime membership into a comprehensive course that will continually grow and become even more valuable. I also didn’t realize that I would be able to ask Glen Allsopp and Dirk deBruin (Diggy) questions directly and get direct answers – as well as learn from all the other questions and answers of other members.

Glen is totally authentic and transparent in everything he does, and he goes into every aspect of blogging in this course. He really teaches us everything we need, step by step.  Many other experts write PLENTY of posts and ebooks about “how to blog,” of course, but they’re usually laced with every sort of affiliate links so we never know what we really need and what the blogger just threw in there hoping to make a little more money! In Glen’s case, he is very honest and wants to help us to succeed. Once we buy Cloud Blogging we don’t need to spend another penny Continue reading

With Great Niches Come Great Responsibility

kittenRemember your readers have put their trust in you

These days a lot of us are looking for great niches that will make us loads of money so we can have lots of passive income and never be forced to trade hours for dollars again.  We may search for niches based on things like huge search volumes and high CPC, or we may decide that since we have a true interest in something, that would be the perfect niche to start a site about. One thing we may not think about is the real people who come looking for our  information. Those people are most likely not niche marketers, and if they do have a blog it’s just to display their darling baby (or cat) to the world. So when they find your site by searching for “cure [insert disease name here]” or “reverse [insert condition name here]” or “pet [insert animal name]” they may place a lot of faith in the words they find on your site. If you’ve done your best to provide accurate and complete information, well that’s what you want them to do – clicking on your ads and buying your products! But it’s the thought  of those innocent people that makes me very careful about which products to endorse or what to post.

Before a few years ago, I was one of those “innocent people.” If I had a sick pet or just found out that one of my loved ones had a certain medical condition, I’d hungrily search for information on the internet – especially after the vet or physician provided a diagnosis I could search. The internet sometimes seems like a boundless source of answers to our questions, and I trusted all the information I found.  Sometimes I’d be puzzled when one site would disagree with another.. “so how many Continue reading

Stalking a domain from unavailable, to expired, to mine!

Recently I watched a domain expire and finally get dropped, and I was able to buy it soon after it was dropped.  I had found the domain last year, but the owner didn’t want to sell it to me.  So I had to wait a few months, but now it’s all mine, and I only paid $10 for it. This is a thrilling tale that’s been told before by others, of course, but since I’m new at it I thoroughly enjoyed watching the domain go through each stage, until eventually it was mine.

When the one you love belongs to somebody else..

Last June I got the idea to start a site that would help me to make my plan to leave the corporate Continue reading

A story of three little niches

This story reminds me of both Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the parable Jesus told about the seeds getting sown on the path, on rock, and in the thorns. Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned an amazing amount by picking one niche that was TOO SMALL, one niche that was TOO BIG, and now I hope one that is JUST RIGHT. So I’m hopeful that there will be a happy ending, or at least a happy interlude!

Niche 1: In summer 2009, I started trying to decide on a niche for a new blog. I thought about all the things that I’m intensely interested in. Then I thought about the things that make me a little different from other people I know, so that I could try to find a niche that wasn’t Continue reading

Three cool WordPress themes that may compel you to start more sites!

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking for just the right theme for a new niche site, and I believe I found it, but while I was having fun looking around I found three that really struck me as cool – and made me want to hurry up and think of an excuse to use them for something!

A WordPress theme that looks like a paper magazine

We often talk about wanting a “magazine look” for our sites, but this free theme, Fresh Ink Magazine, looks like a real paper magazine, except that it contains the contents of your own blog. The background and header are customizable, of course.

Fresh Ink Magazine Theme

A WordPress theme in book chapters

For several years I’ve thought about writing online fiction, or maybe a how-to book which would be strictly online. But I didn’t want it to just “look like a Continue reading

How do you know when it’s time to give up on your blog?

Sometimes in the last couple of years, especially after starting some of my early sites, I’d think something like this: Well I’ve written 10-20 posts, I’ve commented on ten different blogs, and I’ve joined a few forums and put my link in my signature. But still no one’s reading this blog! How do I know when to stop wasting my time?

Einstein once gave us a quick definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So why would someone fail in blogging, sometimes for quite a long time, yet think it makes any sense at all to just keep at it, expecting better results the next time?

When Leigh Peele first started a blog to share her knowledge and successes with physical fitness and fat loss, only a few people read it. Then she wrote a book, and it only sold SIX COPIES. At that point, why wouldn’t she realize she was banging her head on a concrete wall and give up? I know I would have! But she didn’t give up. She started networking with others and putting a little more into it, so soon her blog had 100-200 readers a day, and $20 a month in blog income. At that point, if it were me I’d “realize” I had a nice little hobby and stop wasting my time, but it’s a good thing she didn’t ask for my opinion! Eventually she found herself making thousands per month from the blog itself and now has a successful paid membership site, plenty of clients, as well as successful ebooks. It “just” took time and a lot of hard work.

A few months ago I looked at Chris Brogan’s archives and was surprised to see that his posts from 2004 and 2005 have no comments, at least from the original time period! Now, it may be that he moved his blog from one platform to another and the comments were lost in the process, but look at this post about comment envy from 2006, TWO FULL YEARS after the first post in the archives. Why didn’t Chris “realize” he should give up? I can’t imagine blogging for that long without getting any positive reinforcement. Why did he keep plugging away? Fortunately he just kept working, and over many years he became an “overnight success.” :)

Pat Flynn almost gave up on his blog, because although he was writing awesome content, he had almost no traffic. But an influential blogger wrote a post about him and his blog, and suddenly he had a huge amount of traffic flowing to his blog. And of course once all those people came to his blog, we stayed with him and want to read every word he writes because his blog has really amazing, useful information. And Pat has never had to get another job working for someone else again.

I love reading stories like those. But I also see blogs all the time that someone should have put out of their misery long ago. So how can we tell the difference? How do we know when to keep at it and when to stop? Or a “sub-question” of that would be, how do we know when our topic stinks and it’s time to ditch one blog and start another one?

The best answer I can figure out for now is the over-simplified statement that there are no guarantees in life. We can devote all of our time and money to a business, cause, or relationship, and still find later that it was all in vain and our efforts didn’t get the results we wanted. Or we can do the same thing and have a story with a happy ending and a success. The main thing is that if we make all the sacrifices and exert all that effort it should be for something that we totally believe in. It should be a project so compelling that we almost can’t keep ourselves from working on it, and that’s going to get us through all those hard days and sacrifices we make in the beginning.

I’ve started too many sites to remember at this point, but I’ve finally found a niche I know is right for me because it’s what I bore my family and friends with all that time, any time they’ll listen, and it’s been that way for 15 years. But I also know it’s going to be a long haul, and I’m enjoying every step. So if we’re ever looking at our dismal Adsense reports or analytics in the early days of new blogs, we must remember to have a look at Chris Brogan’s first post in his archives and realize that it may be that we just have a few years of hard work ahead!

Photo credit: craigfinlay

Will blogging change the way we live in our time zones?

The past twenty years have seen this world shrink rapidly. There have been advances in travel, telephones, and television, of course, but the main way most of us have our first experience with people on other continents is by using the wonderful internet. We can read blogs and social media by people in other countries any time of the day or night, and it’s so nice that since there are so many time zones, there’s always a lively conversation going on somewhere – whether you prefer Twitter, a forum, or a blog’s comments. Wow I wish I’d had the web back in 1989 when I had a new baby who stayed up all night! Back then all I had was magazines and maybe some bad TV at 2 in the morning, so it was a lonely and strange (as well as exhausting) existence.

If you spend much time talking to others online, you occasionally make a really good friend or two when you discover how much you have in common with them. Once we start talking to one or two people in particular, then we start noticing – one of my friends is 13 hours ahead of me, so just as I’m eating lunch and getting on Twitter, it’s midnight to 1 am for her and she finally says she must go to bed. Another friend is seven hours ahead of me, but luckily he’s a night owl, so I often talk to him after I get home from work – and it’s after midnight for him.

Likewise, I may write some messages or a blog post during the evening, then if I happen to wake up an hour or even two before my alarm goes off, I get up, eager to go to the computer and see what messages or blog comments I might have received overnight. Being an internet enthusiast has left me almost wishing I never had to sleep, and it definitely makes me wonder if I’d shift my own rhythm if I was able to work full time online.

Will blogging make us all shift toward being on the same time “zone?” someday? If you know what time an A-list blogger usually publishes posts, do you try to be awake then to have one of the first comments? Do you try to be awake during the same times as some of your blogging friends, even if they’re in a very different part of the world?

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver

Don’t wait ’til it’s gone – buy your domain name!

Even if you don’t have a web presence, you might change your mind

Whether you’re a dentist, a Blogspot blogger, or an everyday person who doesn’t intend to create any sort of web presence at all, I still urge you to buy your own domain. If you’re fortunate, the domain yourfirstnameyourlastname.com will still be available. And if you have a store, for example, you’ll want yourstorename.com or at least yourstorenamecityname.com or some other charming derivative. I can hardly believe it when I get a statement from a professional and at the bottom they have an email address @aol or hotmail! Even if all you want your domain for is a more professional looking email address, it’s easy to get one and only costs $10 for a year’s registration when you get it from Google.

Google can sell you a domain!

Google Apps Standard Edition is totally free for the email and other apps, and you’ll have email accounts which are really Gmail and easy to deal with, except they are your own username @ your own domainname.com It’s such a nice and easy thing to do, and you can buy a domain from Google right there for $10, including private domain registration. I’ve bought a lot of domains that way, and the $10 can’t be beat (since it includes privacy). The only drawback of Google compared to someone like GoDaddy or BlueHost is that once you buy a domain through Google, it’s final, even if you misspelled it. With GoDaddy and BlueHost, I’ve called them back within a couple of days and told them I found something I like better, can we cancel that first one…and they cheerfully took care of it for me.

If you also want a blog or website


Currently I buy most of my domains at GoDaddy or Bluehost, but if there’s one I’m sure I won’t change my mind about anytime soon (such as my own last name and my own firstnamelastname), then I take advantage of that $10 deal we can get from Google. Also, of course, if you want to start your own blog and have it hosted, Bluehost will give you one free domain registration or renewal each year for the life of your account. So if you just have one blog, your one domain name will always be free anyway.

Start thinking about what domain names you need for your personal life and your business. And remember – be sure to grab the matching Twitter name too!