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.
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.