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Niche Site 101: How to Build Profitable Websites [FREE COURSE]

niche site 101 how to build profitable websites free course

📑 Make sure to bookmark this post so that you can easily access it in the future.

Welcome to Niche Site 101, a FREE niche site building course where I am going to show you my proven method for making money online.

By going through Niche Site 101 from beginning to end, I’m providing you with the opportunity to leverage all of my successes (and failures) in order to get your niche site business off the ground.

🔗 If you find this free course valuable and want to show some love you could always share it on social media, link to this post from your own site, or check out my list of recommended tools and software.

My suggestions are based on thousands of hours of work and more money spent than I can count.

I understand that the people taking this course are coming from various levels of niche site building experience.

My goal is to give a true beginner the ability to be successful without having to waste unnecessary time.

stop wasting time building niche websites

But even if you are reading this as an advanced online marketer or site builder, I hope you still can take a few nuggets of knowledge away from my method.

NFA/DYOR: Just like any investment, there is a wide array of possible outcomes when building a niche site. If you are serious about making money with niche sites, I encourage you to explore as many sources on the subject as possible and make your own decisions based on what you learn.

Remember these are just my suggestions, from my personal experiences.

What is a Niche Site?

📑 A website that concentrates on a relatively narrow subset of a larger market with the intention of monetizing the traffic is known as a niche site. The majority of the time, niche websites bring in revenue from affiliate marketing, display ads, and the sale of digital products such as online courses or ebooks.

Why Should You Build Niche Sites? (My Journey)

So, you wanna make a living online building niche websites?

Well, I don’t blame you!

The concept of niche sites literally changed my entire life.

I went from working a 9-5 job I hated to…

  • Going to the beach whenever I want
  • Being able to spend almost unlimited time with my family
  • Getting to hang out with my friends
my niche site journey

The best part is, the entire time I am enjoying life on my terms….I’m still making money!

That’s right, I’m making money while on the beach, by the pool with my wife, and even while watching the game with my buddies.

I wouldn’t say that building niche sites is passive by any means, but once you understand how to put the proper systems in place, the money you make does feel very easy to make in comparison.

There have been times when I only work a few hours per week for months on end and still predictably make money for my family.

Some of the benefits of starting a niche website are:

  • No customers or clients
  • No inventory
  • Work as little or much as you want to

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

Well, it is, but it took me most of my life to figure out everything that brought me to the easy niche site lifestyle I lead today.

Without going into all of the boring details, here is a timeline of my life prior to going all in creating niche sites:

  • College dropout
  • Pizza delivery driver
  • Bartender
  • Failed restaurant owner
  • Keyboard player in a garage band
  • Telemarketer
  • Uber Driver

I was always interested in learning how to make money online, and one day I came across the concept of authority-style niche sites and decided I would build one and make enough money to replace my current job.

So my girlfriend at the time (my wife now) and I did just that.

She came up with the idea and wrote the content and I learned enough about SEO to start ranking for some keywords, but it was barely making any money.

Then one day the money started rolling in…

It was in an underserved niche, and we had nailed it with her content and my SEO strategy.

So I started replicating the method we had used with our original niche site and built a few more.

I had finally found my calling.

It’s been over 4 years since I made the commitment to build niche sites full-time and I currently have 7 sites that generate 6 figures per year of semi-passive income.

On top of that I recently (September 2022) sold one of the first niche sites I ever built for over $300k.

empire flippers niche site sold

I also generated over $200k in profit while I was operating it, so all-in-all it netted me over half a million dollars!

There’s no better profit margin than building niche sites, and you can start one for next to nothing.

That $500k+ niche site I just sold? It started with a $7.95 domain name and a hosting package that was less than $100 per year…

If you want to follow the exact method I use to start and grow profitable niche sites, keep reading and I’ll let you in on a few secrets…

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Niche Site?

The cost to get a new niche site off the ground is very minimal.

So how much does it cost?

Well…it depends.

There are two recurring expenses you will have for every site:

  • Domain Name Registration ($10 per year)
  • Hosting ($40+ per year)

If you plan on having multiple sites, make sure that you pick a plan that allows you to host more than one site so you can split the hosting expense between them.

📒 To get started, I always recommend the Hostinger Premium Shared hosting plan. For as little as $35.88 PER YEAR (w/ coupon code NICHESITE101) you can host up to 100 websites with unlimited traffic!

Once you get your site hosted and built you may incur additional costs like:

  • Paying for Content
  • Premium Themes/Plugins (optional)
  • Link Building (getting other sites to link to you)
  • Email Marketing Service
  • SEO and Marketing Tools

You can certainly trade your time for money when it comes to content creation and link building.

At the bare minimum, you will have to sign up for a couple of tools after your site starts making some money if you are serious about making a full-time living through building niche sites.

How Much Money Can a Niche Site Make?

Imagine having an investment that generates thousands in revenue per month that can be sold for 30-40x its monthly profit….all for less than a trip to your local watering hole.

Here’s some niche site math for you to consider:

Your new website is averaging $1000 per month in profit (This is pretty easy to pull off with just FREE traffic).

This means that it is making $12,000 per year in profit, and if you wanted to sell the site you can make between $30-40k!

But what if you hold onto it for another year?

And in the second year, you 3x the monthly profit (also completely possible if you stick to the game plan).

Now you have added another $36,000 to your wallet…

And your site is valued between $90k-120k!!

So in 24 months, with a very conservative project, you will have made:

$48,000 PLUS another SIX FIGURES if you decide to sell!

Or you could keep scaling it.

It’s totally up to you!

There aren’t a lot of investments that can generate that kind of income, in such a small period of time, with ALMOST NO RISK (more on that later).

Think about this, one high-performing niche site can replace your current income!

man happily quitting job

So why wouldn’t you just start building a portfolio of these sites and make some serious life-changing money?

The short answer: YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN!!! (If you implement an easy-to-scale method like mine)

The long answer: Each site does take a bit of work, and working on too many sites without a clear roadmap can sometimes be a bit counterproductive in the long run.

If you want to replace your 9-5, you absolutely can (I did).

If you just want to dabble and make some additional income for your family, you can do that as well.

Hell, if you choose at any time you want to cash out, you always have that option too.

What a lot of outsiders don’t know is that the niche site market is extremely liquid, with buyers and institutional investors clamoring like crazy to add profitable sites to their portfolios.

So, if you ever get tired of a site/niche and want to bail, or just want a lump sum payout, you can always sell at any point and get out very quickly.

How much can a niche site make in its lifetime? The answer is up to you!

How to Monetize a Niche Site

When I start a new niche site, I always intend to monetize it in 3 ways:

  • Promote Affiliate Products
  • Display Advertising
  • Sell My Own Digital Products

I also like to monetize my sites in stages:

Stage 1: Affiliate Marketing (From the Beginning)

Promoting affiliate programs is the easiest way to monetize any niche site. All you have to do is find affiliate offers that match what your visitors are interested in buying.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on affiliating with programs that are selling physical products.

The easiest affiliate program to promote is Amazon Associates.

Almost every site owner starts here.

The great part about Amazon Associates is they allow you to start promoting right away.

promote amazon associates

You just have to get at least 3 sales in the first 180 days to be approved to continue selling.

Amazon has items for literally every niche known to man, so it’s easy to start picking out items to promote on your site. Plus, you get credit for everything in the cart at checkout.

Even the items you didn’t promote!

Because of this, I find that around 65% of my Amazon Associates commission comes from items I’m not actively promoting.

The only downside of the Amazon Associates program is that the average commission rate is super low (1-3%) and the cookie duration is only 24 hours.

Regardless, I still always suggest that you start out your site by promoting the Amazon Associates program because it converts so well (almost everybody has a Prime Account with their credit card attached).

Once your site starts to get more traffic, you should start testing out other higher-paying affiliate offers.

Many of these offers will pay 10-20% for a sale and have cookie durations of 30-90 days.

That sounds great, but unless the company is a well-known brand or store in the niche, it probably won’t convert nearly as well as Amazon.

So, if you switch programs, you could be leaving money on the table even though the commission rate and cookie duration are more attractive.

Or maybe you could 2-3x your commissions by switching out the Amazon link to a new affiliate program.

A good real-world example of this is in the pet niche.

Amazon pays a 3% commission in the “Pets Products” category and Chewy.com pays you a one-time $15 bounty for every new customer that you bring them.

🐶 Interested in the pet niche? Check out our definitive list of best hosting for pet niche websites

Which program would make you more money?

Split testing specific offers is really the only way to know for sure.

Stage 2: Display Ads

Display advertising is the most passive income you can generate with your niche site.

Essentially, an ad network is paying you to let them put ads all over your site. You get paid a very small amount for every ad that a visitor sees and/or interacts with.

The display advertising network that is most commonly seen on websites is Google Adsense. It’s the easiest network to get accepted to, but the RPM (revenue per 1k pageviews) is awful.

Because of this, I personally don’t waste my time with Adsense.

There are really only 3 ad networks that I would use (minimum monthly traffic requirements).

  • Ezoic (No minimum; must be approved by Google)
  • Mediavine (50k sessions)
  • Adthrive (100k pageviews)

My goal is always to get all of my sites on Adthrive (or Mediavine).

Stage 3: Digital Products (Optional)

The last way I like to monetize my niche sites is by selling digital products.

I add digital products to my site as the final step in monetization, because I want to make sure that the site is going to have enough traffic to justify all of the time, money, and energy that goes into setting up a shop and creating products.

Some examples of digital products you could sell include:

  • Ebooks
  • Online Courses
  • Printable Art/Decorations
  • Printable Planners/Worksheets

Not every type of digital product will be a fit for every niche, but usually, ebooks are an easy way to monetize your traffic.

Digital product sales perform best when paired up with a quality lead magnet and a well-thought-out email marketing campaign.

📈 One hack is to offer digital products as an affiliate first, identify the ones that are doing well, and then create a better version of the product and sell it yourself.

The great part about setting up digital products to sell on your site is you just have to download a free plugin (Woocommerce), hook up Paypal and optionally sign up for a free Stripe merchant account (not in every country) and you are on your way!

Can Anyone Build a Niche Site?

So far this all sounds good, right?

Make a site, scatter some affiliate links, slap on some ads, and sell a digital product or two.

Easy money!!!

Not so fast….there is a lot of technical work and a ton of effort that goes into building a successful niche site.

Spoiler Alert: Not everyone can do it.

lazy online marketer

If you are a person who is:

  • Lazy
  • Has no patience
  • Has SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome)
  • Can’t follow through even when a great opportunity is presented

Then you probably should find something else to do with your time.

But….

If you are a person who is:

  • Driven
  • Patient
  • Focused
  • Takes advantage of opportunities

Then building and operating niche websites is going to be the best money-making opportunity you could possibly find online.

Build One Niche Site or Many?

There are a few questions that I always seem to get consistently asked.

One of them is: “Should I focus on building just one site or multiple sites at once?”

The answer comes down to a combination of two things: how focused you can be and how much time/monetary investment you are willing to make.

When I built my first niche site, I was still learning.

I was finally taking action on all of the theories I had read about.

I started out focusing on a single site for an entire year.

The pros of focusing on a single site are:

  • You can start with a smaller budget
  • You can give it the proper attention it deserves

The one major drawback is that if it doesn’t do as well as anticipated, you will have wasted a great deal of time.

I consider my first site a success, but looking back I realize a little bit of luck played into the success (I found the perfect niche) and the outcome could have been very different.

So, if you can afford to start multiple projects per year, I would take that route.

money plants representing multiple niches websites

However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with only wanting to build one site and make it great!

There are plenty of people who took an idea, turned it into a blog or niche site, and are wildly successful from that single venture.

When I first started, I never had any intention of building a portfolio of niche sites.

Only once the money started rolling in did I think:

I should start more of these!!!

You can use the information presented in this free course to build an empire from one niche site or a hundred.

The choice is always yours.

“Growing a Garden” Niche Site Method

Early in my life, I was a gambler. I loved to play online poker.

When I first started out playing online poker I was making more money weekly than I was at my bartending job.

Once I was consistently making money every night, I wanted to scale my income at the virtual tables.

I could have just started playing at the higher stakes tables, but I knew if I had a bad night I would most certainly lose my bankroll.

I wanted to scale in a less risky manner.

So I started studying how to effectively play multiple tables at once.

First I started playing two hands at a time, then 4, then up to 8 hands.

The reason my old school 50 lb. computer monitor (think early 2000s) had 8 tables at a time running, was because it allowed me to see more hands in any given session.

I wasn’t going to win at all 8 tables every night, but as a consistently winning player, I had more opportunities to win.

The more hands I saw per hour, the more money I was making.

It allowed me to safely scale my bankroll.

The reason I tell that story is because I think it’s somewhat applicable to the way I build sites.

I like to call my startup method “Growing a Garden”.

growing a garden of niche sites

I plant seed sites.

Then I water them for a few months and see how tall they grow.

You see, no matter how much research you do, there’s no 100% way to determine the outcome of any given site.

Outside factors like increased competition and Google algorithm changes often come into play.

Sometimes, sites do better than expected and sometimes they do worse.

I seed all my sites the same way, giving them the bare minimum amount of attention for 3-4 months, and then decide based on their natural growth how I will approach them moving forward.

This way I have more opportunities to make winning sites in any given year.

It’s a very methodical process, but I find that it takes the emotion out of the equation and allows me to focus my efforts on the sites with the best chance to win.

It’s not always about how many sites you start, it’s more about the mentality of consistently growing your garden.

Give yourself more opportunities to win.

How to Grow a Niche Site Garden (Plant your First Seed)

  1. Choose a niche
  2. Fully set up hosting/WordPress
  3. Identify Keywords to Target
  4. Add 30k-50k words of content across ONE topic/category
  5. Automate Pinterest Account (Niche Specific)
  6. Start safely building backlinks

Don’t add any new content during the seeding period (3-4 months)

You simply want to see which content Google naturally gravitates toward ranking, while at the same time building domain/topical authority.

Regardless if you are setting up one niche site or ten, always follow this method.

📈 Please refer to my Pinterest marketing tutorial for a detailed explanation of how to create a Pinterest account for your niche website.

So now that we have the basics out of the way, it’s time to talk about the most difficult of all topics pertaining to building niche sites…

How to Choose a Niche

The question I get asked the most is: “James, what niche are you in?”

My answer is I’m in any niche where I think I can make money.

hundred dollar bills profitable money making niches

But really, I don’t stick to a certain niche when creating niche sites.

If I see an opportunity to make money in a niche I will take it.

My standard advice is usually to start your first niche site in a niche that you are passionate about or at the very least interested in.

This makes it much simpler to keep going until you reach your goal and not give up along the way (trust me you want to see it all the way through for the maximum reward).

The best advice I can give is to tell you which niches you should not attempt due to their highly competitive nature.

Here are the main niches I would avoid until you have at least a couple of winning projects under your belt:

  • YMYL (Your Money Your Life) – Anything that has to do with money or health
  • CBD/Marijuana
  • Adult
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Casino/Gambling

The above niches have the highest returns (you could make six figures per month), but they are also the most competitive and are all really expensive to compete in.

What are Sub-Niches/Shoulder Niches?

Before we jump into how to choose a niche for your site, I briefly want to touch on some niche terminology you should understand.

Sub-Niches

A sub-niche is just a drilled-down topic within a particular niche.

For example, bamboo products are a sub-niche of the eco-friendly product niche.

Competing against some of the top sites in the eco-friendly product niche is a daunting task for most, but only focusing on bamboo products is a bit more manageable…especially for beginners.

You could sub-niche even further and only review bamboo bedding products (sheets, pillows, comforters, etc) but sub-niching too far is often unnecessary and will limit the potential revenue of your site.

In the above example, bamboo bedding products would most likely just be a category of your bamboo products website, and the best sheets, pillows, comforters, etc would be your affiliate money pages within the category.

Shoulder Niches

A shoulder niche is one that is loosely connected to a niche.

For example, pickleball is a shoulder niche to the tennis niche.

Both are recreational sports played with a racquet and on a court.

You should identify as many shoulder niches as possible when evaluating a particular niche.

How Broad Should You Niche?

You will get a bunch of varying opinions when it comes to the topic of how broad a niche should be.

When I evaluate a niche, I simply group them into 4 types:

  • Impossible Niche – [Sports]
  • Broad Niche – [Water Sports]
  • Narrow Niche – [Kayaking]
  • Micro Niche – [Kayak Fishing]

I’m not usually a fan of building micro-niche sites, because there’s just not enough monetary upside for my liking.

empty wallet micro niche site not enough money

I’ll explain…

Because I’m not only looking to sell affiliate products but also generate revenue from display ads (preferably on Mediavine or Adthrive), I need a niche large enough to generate approximately 75k-100k+ pageviews per month.

If you drill the niche down too far, you’re never going to be able to generate enough traffic to hit that goal.

So, I prefer to tackle niches that are large enough to allow me to publish an almost never-ending supply of content.

Most narrow niches have more than enough search volume to achieve my traffic goals and plenty of sub-niches to create content silos around.

A broad niche site is really just a scaled-up version of a narrow niche site.

On broad niche sites, you will be targeting a multitude of related narrow niche topics.

So in the example, I used above, on the water sports niche site, you could write about boats, jet skis, kayaks, water skiing, wakeboarding, and many other topics pertaining to water sports.

Broad niche sites can make the most money. They are also the most attractive on the resale market, and when you build one that’s successful it will be life-changing.

Unfortunately, they also take the most time and can be quite expensive to build.

📈 If you build a successful narrow niche site you can always scale it up and broaden the niche or add content in a relevant shoulder niche(s).

So for the purpose of this post, I am going to suggest you focus on building narrow niche sites.

How to Brainstorm Niche Ideas

The first step to choosing a niche for your site is to actually start brainstorming potential niches.

This may sound easy enough, but in reality, it can be a very overwhelming task…even for the most experienced site builder.

When you find a niche idea, make sure to open your mind to any potential sub-niches and shoulder niches as well.

Below I’m going to show you a few different tricks for discovering niche ideas.

1. Hobbies/Interests

This one may seem obvious, but it is worth noting.

What are you interested in? Do you have hobbies?

Since you already show interest in a subject, it makes it much easier to create a site around the topic.

Don’t only analyze yourself, think about all of your friends and family and what their hobbies and interests are.

For example, my cousin has a very specific interest in a sub-niche of the micro-farming niche.

I never would have discovered this niche on my own, but it has been wildly successful for me, generating mid 4 figures per month in profit with very little effort.

2. Scan Marketplaces

Check out content site listings on marketplaces like Flippa and take note of the ones that have significant traffic.

Remember we are just looking for niche ideas in the brainstorming phase, so try to think of all the potential sub-niches and shoulder niches for the listing as well.

You need a tool like Ahrefs for this technique, but it is one of the most powerful ways to get a ton of prequalified potential niche ideas.

In the Ahrefs Site Explorer, enter a known affiliate link for an affiliate program or marketplace.

A few of the most popular ones are:

  • Amazon – [amzn.to]
  • Shareasale – [shareasale.com/r.cfm] or [shrsl.com]
  • Awin – [awin1.com] or [tidd.ly]
  • Impact – [sjv.io] (Check all subdomains)
  • Pepperjam – [pjtr.com/t/] or [pjtra.com/t/]
  • Clickbank – [hop.clickbank.net]

Once in the Backlinks view of Ahrefs choose the following options:

  • One link per domain
  • Platform Type: Blogs
  • Language: English (or the language you are targeting)
  • Traffic: Min = 1000
ahrefs niche selection settings

I sort them by lowest DR and jot down the sites that seem interesting.

Using this technique I found a site in the wood carving/whittling niche with a domain rating of 1 that gets an estimated 2000+ visitors per month to their Best Whittling Knife money page.

ahrefs niche difficulty

This niche is definitely worth some further evaluation.

How to Evaluate a Niche Idea

There are 3 steps I take when evaluating a niche idea:

  1. Evaluating Earning Potential (Asking Questions)
  2. Buyer Keyword Research (Keyword Volume/Difficulty)
  3. Competition Analysis (Is it Possible?)

1. Evaluating Earning Potential

Only enter a niche when you believe there is enough money to be made to justify your time and resources.

Spend some quality time researching the niche and really evaluating its income potential.

This process will become second nature when you start gaining more experience building profitable sites.

When first evaluating a niche you should be asking questions like:

  • What is the price point of the items people might buy?
  • Is there rising demand/interest?
  • Is the niche evergreen or just a fad?
  • Will buyers make a one-time purchase or continue to spend?
  • Is there also the opportunity to sell digital products?
  • What are the Amazon commission rates for products?
  • Are there lucrative affiliate programs outside of Amazon?

In a perfect world you are looking for:

  • A healthy mix of “higher ticket” items and “lower ticket” items
  • A niche that is trending in popularity
  • An evergreen niche (not a fad like fidget spinners)
  • Buyers that continually make purchases
  • Some demand for paid digital products/ebooks
  • An assortment of higher-paying affiliate programs

Not every niche is going to check all the boxes, but at least ask yourself these questions and think hard about the road to monetization before committing to a particular niche.

To help determine if a niche is trending, how it has performed historically, and to evaluate possible seasonality you should always first check it on Google Trends.

2. Buyer Keyword Research

You should always do proper keyword research on any niche before you decide to take it on.

For this step, you will need access to a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRUSH.

Identifying the top keywords in the niche and their monthly search volume will go a long way in deciding if there is enough demand to justify entering it.

But the research doesn’t stop there…

You also have to evaluate how difficult the niche is to enter.

When choosing a niche, you want to focus your evaluation on the keywords with purchase intent. These are called buyer keywords.

When people are searching for these keywords they are generally in the final stages of researching and about to make a purchase.

There are plenty of variations of buyer keywords, but here are a few examples of what to look for:

  • Best X (Best Inflatable Kayak)
  • Best X for (Best Kayak for Beginners)
  • Best X of 2022 (Best Fishing Kayak of 2022)
  • Brand Y vs Brand Z (Perception vs Pelican International)
  • X Reviews (Inflatable Kayak Reviews)
  • Brand Y Review (Perception Kayak Review)
  • Brand Y Model Review (Pescador Pro Review)
  • Alternatives to Brand Y (Alternatives to Perception Kayaks)

For our initial research, you are only going to be focusing on “Best X” and “Best X for” keywords.

best x for keywords

The first step in buyer keyword research is to identify your seed keyword.

So for the kayaking niche, I assume the seed buyer keyword would be “best kayak”.

When researching, you are going to be looking for all of the top searched variations of “best kayak”.

Open Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and enter “best kayak”

ahrefs keyword explorer sort for niche

What I’m looking for is:

  • Plenty of keywords > 200 Search Volume
  • Most Keywords < 40 Keyword Difficulty (more green scores the better)
  • Total Volume > 25k per month

4. Competitor Analysis

So you’ve found a niche that can be monetized and has good overall buyer keyword search volume.

The last step in evaluating a niche is to get down and dirty with some competitor analysis.

Ahref’s Keyword Difficulty isn’t a perfect metric, so I want to manually search for some of the top buyer keywords and use the Ahrefs Chrome extension to check that there are a couple of obvious niche sites ranking on page one with a Domain Rating of < 40.

ahrefs chrome extension niche difficulty

📃 Make sure to keep a running list of these low DR competitors. It will come in handy for your ongoing keyword research.

If at first look it seems like the buyer keywords on your list are dominated by high DR sites, you may not want to take the niche on until you are at a more advanced level.

However, if you find that niche sites with lower DRs are on page one for a lot of your top searched buyer keywords, you may have found yourself a niche that is easy enough to compete in.

Some site builders are going to want to also analyze the backlinks of their competition before entering a niche.

Personally, I think that it’s a waste of time at this early stage, and can cause “analysis paralysis”.

analysis paralysis

My reasoning is, that at some point, you are going to be doing backlink building regardless, so if sites with low traffic are ranking on page one, you should just assume that you will be able to do the same.

Just focus on getting the site built, and deal with the backlink analysis later on down the road.

Pulling the Trigger on a Niche

The final step in the niche selection process is…..actually pulling the trigger on your idea.

If you have done all of the above brainstorming and subsequent analysis and feel like you have a good niche picked out, start building the damn thing!

A lot of time can be wasted trying to decide on the perfect name for your site, but I do have quite a few tips for how to pick a good domain name.

Tips for How to Name a Niche Site

There is no right or wrong method to choose a name for your niche website, but you should follow my advice below to increase your chances of finding the perfect name for your new venture.

Use a .com

Try to use a .com as your domain extension if possible. The only exception should be if you live in a country where your domain is also strong like .co.uk or .com.au and you’re targeting non-US traffic.

You will see plenty of niche websites use .net and .org extensions, but I would advise against this.

From an SEO perspective, there is no difference. You can rank any extension with ease. It’s not an SEO thing, it’s a resale market/trust thing.

If you decide to eventually sell or flip your site, you will get a higher valuation for having the .com extension.

Also, in my opinion, people are more likely to click on the search result of a site with a .com extension (I don’t have any hard data to back this up, it’s just my experience from working with various sites over the years).

So just stick to a .com domain when starting your niche sites.

No Hyphens or Numbers

There isn’t really any explanation needed.

Stay away from using a domain with hyphens or numbers.

They look bad, and they’re bad for your site’s resale value.

Broad and Brandable

When building a niche site you want to make sure the domain name doesn’t pigeonhole you into a more narrow niche.

For example, if you chose topgrillreviews.com as your domain name, it’s going to be tougher to add content about brick pizza ovens or kegerators if later you decide to expand to a broad niche site about outdoor kitchens.

Also, if you ever decide to sell your website, the valuation will almost always be lower if you use a name that won’t allow a new buyer the opportunity to expand the niche.

It’s more profitable to expand the niche broadness of a site that is already doing well, rather than building a new site in a similar niche, and buyers know this.

Aim for Alliteration

I’m also a big fan of alliteration when branding a domain. This means using the first letter to start both words.

An example in the grilling niche would be: SeriouslySmoked.com

Alliteration isn’t necessary, but I usually like to start off my search with it in mind.

Keep it short (2-3 words max)

Two to three-word domains are just more memorable than a longer name.

I prefer to start my search with two-word domains, but I’m not against a three-word domain if it’s catchy and makes sense in the niche.

Basically, I like to keep my domain names short and sweet.

Check it on Archive.org

The Archive.org Wayback Machine is a recorded history of all websites (hence the name).

Before you pull the trigger on buying a domain name, plug it into the Wayback Machine to see if it has ever been used for a spammy site or a site that is not topically relevant to the content you will be producing.

archive.org wayback machine domain name search

If either of these is the case, just move on to a different domain name.

See if it’s Already Indexed with Google

If you happen to pick up a domain name that was recently dropped it may still be indexed with Google.

You can check to see what pages (if any) are still in Google’s index.

In the Google search bar type:

site:yourdomain.com

If there are any pages indexed you will see them in the results.

Checking indexation is just a foolproof way to make sure your domain wasn’t recently used for anything spammy, illegal, or completely off-topic to your niche.

The last thing you want to happen is to start a niche site, make it profitable, and then get a letter telling you that you have been infringing on a company’s trademark.

It’s never personally happened to me, but I’ve heard a couple of horror stories.

So make sure to check every domain name in your jurisdiction’s trademark database.

In the USA it’s as easy as running a query on the US Patent and Trademark Office website.

us trademark and patent office domain name search

If the words in your domain name show up as trademarked, you should scrap it and move on to a different option.

A Note on Expired/Aged Domains

Many site builders will advocate for using expired domains that already have age and/or relevant backlinks pointing at them.

Using expired domains has merit as they can often speed up the process of ranking your site, but if you don’t know how to choose them properly they can sink your site before it starts.

When just starting out, I advise that you build your site on a hand registered domain, using the criteria outlined above.

Time to Purchase a Domain Name

NameSilo has been my preferred domain registrar for years.

They offer the cheapest domain name registrations in the industry.

But the main reason I love NameSilo is they include free WHOIS Protection with every domain.

Most other registrars or hosting companies that give you a complimentary domain name charge between $9-15 per year for WHOIS Protection.

If you own a lot of domains, those additional fees can really add up come re-registration time.

With NameSilo, WHOIS protection stays FREE FOREVER.

The reason you want WHOIS protection is that if you are building multiple sites you don’t want people to be able to piece together your entire site portfolio through your WHOIS data.

Trust me, when you get successful, there will be people trying to take shortcuts to figure out exactly what you are doing.

Plus NameSilo’s domain management interface is super clean and easy to use.

💡 Some hosting companies offer a free domain name registration when you sign up, but I like the free lifetime WHOIS Protection so I would eat the $9 and register your domain with NameSilo instead.

The best advice I can give you is not to get hung up on the actual name of your new site.

However, you should make sure that you do take the time to complete due diligence on each potential domain name. This will allow you to have peace of mind in knowing that your niche website is beginning its existence without any potential issues or strikes against it.

What is the Best Hosting for Niche Sites?

One may make an argument for beginning their niche website on any one of several high-quality hosting options.

But since the focus of this blog is how I build my niche sites, I am only going to recommend hosting options that I have experience with and know I can vouch for.

Below are my favorite hosting options for brand-new niche sites:

Pros
 
Best Overall Choice
1
hostinger logo
Hostinger
Pros
Easy Setup
FAST LiteSpeed Servers
Starting at $1.99 per month
Best customer support
2
wpx logo
WPX Hosting
Pros
Lightning-fast CDN
Free Site Transfers
24/7 Real-time Chat Support
Best CLOUD Hosting
3
Cloudways
Pros
24/7/365 Support
Managed Security
Automated Backups

How to Choose Hosting for Niche Sites

Choosing a web hosting solution for your niche site can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, most shared hosting providers use pretty similar server configurations.

So, unless you’re ready to pay a premium for hosting, the majority of the low-cost solutions recommended in internet marketers’ “best hosting” roundups will deliver roughly the same experience.

If this is your first niche site, you most certainly don’t need to break the bank by paying for top-notch servers when your site doesn’t even have traffic yet.

expensive fast web servers in a room

With this idea in mind, I suggest choosing an inexpensive shared hosting provider (see my favorite choice below) when first starting out and then migrating your niche site to a fast cloud hosting option or just upgrading to a more powerful hosting setup with your current provider.

If you want to read up on web hosting in more detail, below are a few posts I’ve written on the subject:

Hostinger (Best Host to Start a Niche Site)

Not only is Hostinger the company that offers the most affordable shared hosting on the market, but it’s also the best option when it comes to overall value.

When I teach new students how to create niche websites, I always suggest Hostinger as the best hosting option to start with.

hostinger pricing plans

Hostinger is one of the few affordable shared hosting solutions that utilize LiteSpeed servers, which give much-improved performance in comparison to the Apache servers that are utilized by most budget hosting companies.

If you have access to LiteSpeed servers, you have the additional option of employing the LiteSpeed Cache plugin and QUIC.cloud CDN, both of which are free solutions that will offer your blog a HUGE advantage in terms of speed in comparison to the blogs that are run by your competitors.

This also enables you to avoid purchasing other plugins like WP Rocket and ShortPixel, saving you money and reducing plugin bloat.

You might believe that the better site performance would come at a large cost…

However, this is not at all the situation.

Hostinger shared hosting packages start as low as $1.99 per month, and the Premium Shared plan allows you to host up to 100 sites and even throws in a free domain name!

🔎 Looking for other niche site hosting recommendations? Check out: Best Web Hosting for Bloggers Roundup

There are literally hundreds of hosting options to choose from when starting a niche site.

The hosting providers I recommended in this post are the same ones I would use to start a new niche site of my own.

The next step is setting up the nameservers and installing WordPress.

How to Setup Nameservers for a Niche Site

Setting up the nameservers for your niche site is a relatively easy 2-step process:

  1. Your hosting company will give you a set of nameservers for your account.
  2. Copy those nameservers and paste them into the nameserver section in the domain name settings of your domain registrar.
hostinger nameservers

Then navigate to the setting for your domain inside of your domain register dashboard and find the section to change your nameservers.

domain registrar change nameservers

Now just change the default nameservers to the nameservers provided by your hosting company.

That’s it! The domain name for your niche site is pointing to where you are hosting it.

⏳ It may take a few minutes for the nameserver changes to propagate…however it could take up to a full day.

The next step is to install WordPress on your server.

How to Install WordPress on Hostinger

Almost every host has a 1-Click WordPress installation option, so it should literally be as easy as ONE CLICK.

Just make sure to follow the instructions that are given to you by the company that is hosting your website.

Since I’m using Hostinger to host my niche sites, I’ll give you a walkthrough of setting up WordPress using their hPanel backend.

First things first, navigate to the Hostinger dashboard and scroll down the Domains section and choose Add Website.

hostinger add website

Once you’ve added your niche sites’ domain and set up a password, navigate to the domain’s dashboard, locate the button that says Auto Installer and click it.

hostinger wordpress auto installer

Next, choose WordPress from the installation options and click the Select button.

hostinger wordpress installation

Immediately after you choose Select, a popup will appear that will ask you to fill out the Title of your niche website as well as administrator credentials.

Once you fill out all of the information, click on the Next button.

hostinger wordpress site name and credentials popup

The final step is to choose which version of WordPress you want to be installed as well as specify if you want automatic updates.

hostinger install wordpress options

💻 Keep all of the default settings and click Install to start the WordPress installation process.

Once the installation is complete, you can access your site’s WordPress dashboard by clicking the WordPress Dashboard button.

hostinger new niche site wordpress dashboard

Once you enter your admin login credentials you will be able to start building your WordPress powered niche site!

Now that your domain is pointing to your niche site hosting and WordPress has been installed the next step is actually to design and build your site.

Best WordPress Themes to Start a Niche Site

Once you have WordPress installed, you can optionally spend money on a premium WordPress theme that will make your life a little easier.

The WordPress theme is essentially the framework of your site.

Choosing a theme for your site really comes down to personal preference.

When I first started out I took the cheap path and used a free theme that took forever to customize and had no tech support.

I would spend days (sometimes weeks) tweaking all of the code and making adjustments just to get my blog to look and feel the way I wanted.

It was a total time suck.

Not only do you want to choose a theme that is easy to work with, but you want a theme that is coded well and will load your site quickly.

Purchasing the Kadence Pro Bundle (either yearly or lifetime) gives you a license to use the Kadence Pro theme on unlimited sites plus access to their entire suite of professional-grade WordPress plugins.

The Kadence Conversions plugin is worth the price of the bundle alone. Conversions is a tool that adds pop-ups and conversion-optimized elements to your niche site.

Kadence Conversions squeezes every last penny out of your existing traffic and is kind of like adding a money printer to your site.

I anticipate sticking with Kadence Pro to build my sites for the foreseeable future.

Below are some other high-quality themes that are fast loading and easy to build with:

All of the above themes I mentioned have solid reputations and plenty of tutorial videos and walkthroughs on YouTube.

They also all come with a library of prebuilt page/site templates. Using templates to start your site makes it easier than starting from scratch…especially if you are new to using the WordPress Gutenberg block editor.

Which WordPress Plugins do you Need to Install?

WordPress plugins offer additional functionality that isn’t available in the core code of the theme.

Unless you build your site from scratch and are already an accomplished coder, you are going to need to use a few plugins to get the best results for your niche sites.

That being said, sometimes plugins are built with bloated code that can slow down your site or mess with your CWV (Core Web Vitals), so try to keep them to a minimum.

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available to install on your niche site. Some are totally free and others will set you back a few bucks.

🛠 Check out our roundup of the Best FREE WordPress plugins for Niche Site Bloggers

Wanna know exactly which plugins I install on all of my new niche site builds? Here is a list of my favorites:

  • Antispam Bee
  • Instant Indexing
  • Kadence Blocks – PRO
  • LiteSpeed Cache
  • Loginizer
  • PublishPress Authors
  • Rank Math SEO
  • ThirstyAffiliates
  • Wordfence Security

Because I host my sites with Hostinger which operates on LiteSpeed servers, I can use the free LiteSpeed Cache plugin with QUIC.cloud CDN integration. This eliminates the need for additional paid plugins such as ShortPixel and WP Rocket.

How to Conduct Niche Keyword Research

I am going to preface this topic with some personal viewpoints on the subject as a whole.

I believe that most gurus and SEO experts intentionally make keyword research more difficult than it actually is.

For me, keyword research is probably the most painless part of the niche site process.

The method that I use is:

  • Create Reverse Content Silos around low competition Money Keywords
  • Attack the competitors’ easy-to-win keywords
  • Rinse and repeat until the end of time.

Before I teach you how to find these easy-to-win money makers, let’s talk about keywords as a whole.

What are the Different Types of Keywords?

I separate keywords into four categories:

  • Industry Keywords
  • Money Keywords
  • Info Keywords
  • Product Keywords

Industry Keywords

I consider an industry keyword something like “fishing/charter fishing/fly fishing”.

They are high-volume queries, and in all reality who the hell knows what the search intent behind a query like that is.

The SERPs are probably filled with a bunch of “near me” results, videos, and all types of snippets.

However, what I like to do as an extremely long play is to optimize my Silo Hub Page for its corresponding industry keyword.

I have a few Silo Hub Pages on older sites that currently rank high on page one for these types of broad keywords with 50k+ monthly search volume.

Bonus: By optimizing your Silo Hubs for these industry keywords, you give Google an excellent idea of what your silo is about, while not having to worry about cannibalizing the other keywords you are focusing on.

Money Keywords

When I talk about Money Keywords I’m usually referencing a “Best X” review roundup post.

Ranking high on page one for these types of keywords is your ticket to the niche site promised land!

But the real money is in drilling down and finding the money keywords with laser-targeted buyer intent, and building Reverse Content Silos around them.

These keywords usually come in the form of: “Best X for Y”

Info Keywords

Info keywords are pretty easy to pick out.

They are going to mostly be question-based queries like:

  • How to?
  • What is?
  • How often?

But there are certainly many other variations as well.

I use high-volume info keywords as the focus keyword of the outreach post for a reverse silo.

I’m naturally going to pick up some of these informational keywords through my People Also Ask supporting articles.

Wanna know what’s weird? If you plug the results from People Also Ask into Ahrefs it is often going to tell you that there’s no search volume.

I beg to differ.

If Google is telling you that people are typing in these queries, then there most certainly is some sort of search volume.

Once again, listen to Google.

Product Keywords

If there are specific product keywords with high volume, I make sure to add them to my Money Page roundup posts.

If the keyword has a high enough volume and the top-ranking pages aren’t roundups but rather solo product reviews, I will build a separate review page for that product and link it to the money roundup post (refer to the Frankensilo in Site Structure Blueprint).

Pro Tip: Another tactic to get some targeted buyer traffic is to write VS posts (Product A vs Product B). This works well when you have two products with mid-high search volume.

Link your VS posts to your Money Page roundup post, in the same manner, you would link a Single Product Review.

How to Find Keywords

I break up my keyword research into 3 stages:

  • Identifying the Most Topically Relevant Money Keywords (Seeding)
  • Finding Low Competition Money Keywords (Seeding/Post Seeding)
  • Competitor Keyword Research (Post Seeding)

Identifying the Most Topically Relevant Money Keywords

Whenever I start a new site I want to write about the most topically relevant Money Keywords….regardless if I think I’ll be able to rank for them anytime soon.

You see, in the seeding process, Google is trying to establish what the main topic of the site is. The best way to help them along is to write for some of the most searched KWs in the niche.

Don’t get greedy and skip this step!

It is necessary to seed your site with some content revolving around seemingly impossible to win keywords

niche site money keywords

Search for “Best X” in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and choose 2-3 of the most relevant keywords to build a Reverse Content Silo around for the Seeding Stage.

Finding Low Competition Money Keywords

After I choose a couple of keywords from the above step, my only focus moving forward is to find low competition Money Keywords.

You see since I’m building Reverse Content Silos for all of my Money Keywords, I’m naturally going to be building supporting informational content.

Implementing Reverse Content Silos for low competition Money Keywords is the #1 way I gain early traction in the SERPs.

I have had DR3 sites compete against DR50 sites and win keywords simply because I built 3 pieces of supporting content for my Money Page.

There are 2 ways I would suggest finding low competition Money Keywords to target:

LowFruits.io

If you are looking for a cheap and easy way to find low competition Money Keywords I would suggest using a tool called LowFruits.

You can buy 2000 credits for $25 which is plenty to do initial keyword research for a new site, or there is a monthly/annual subscription plan if need to continually use the tool.

lowfruits finding niche keywords

Test LowFruits for FREE!

Ahrefs

While I believe that LowFruits is an amazing tool, which is totally worth the money, I trust Ahrefs a bit more to give me a proper analysis.

You see, LowFruits uses a metric created by Moz called DA (Domain Authority) to judge if a site showing up on page one is weak or not.

Ahrefs has its own metric called DR (Domain Rating).

Occasionally, I find that LowFruits will identify a niche site as being a “weak spot” when Ahrefs is showing that the site actually has a strong DR.

I have an Ahrefs account so what I like to do is combine the strengths of the 2 tools, to get the ultimate list of low competition Money Keywords.

“The Rule of 5’s”

The Rule of 5’s is the method I use to find longtail, low competition money keywords in Ahrefs.

rule of 5s keyword research

It’s simple really:

1. Go to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and search for the seed Money Keyword (Best Kayak)

2. Set Filters

  • KD: 5 max
  • Word Count: 5 min
  • Exclude these 5 terms (Near me, Quora, Reddit, 2021, 2022)

3. Sort by highest Volume

Using the Rule of 5’s method for the seed phrase “Best Kayak” generated a list of 356 low competition longtail money keywords!

Putting it All Together

Now that I have a list of money keywords that I trust are low competition, I want to import them into LowFruits to analyze for weak spots.

import keywords to lowfruits

In theory, the weakest keywords in this group should be the easiest to compete for.

lowfruits weak spot keywords

Use your common sense to decide if the Money Keyword is one you would like to build content around.

If the item is inexpensive it may not be worth your resources to create a Reverse Content Silo around the keyword.

Competitor Keyword Research (Post Seeding)

Once my site is out of the Seeding Phase, and has some domain authority, I will go back and figure out what keywords my direct competitors are ranking for that I don’t have content about.

I’m looking specifically for my top competitor’s pages that pick up a lot of keywords, but have a low number of referring domains.

Once again, I’m going to use a combination of LowFruits and Ahrefs.

First, I’ll pull up a past report in LowFruits and navigate to the Competition tab.

Note: Use the Authority filter to only display sites with a DA < 20 until your site is greater than a DA20 (Moz) or DR20(Ahrefs).

lowfruits niche site competition

Next, I’ll analyze each competitor in the Ahrefs Site Explorer “Top Pages” view, and set the KW position filter for 1-5.

ahrefs top pages report

Remember, I’m looking for pages that rank for many keywords with very few referring domains (backlinks) pointing at them.

As you can see the site in the example (only a DR8), has many Money Pages that rank high for KWs.

Many of these pages have 0 backlinks pointing at them.

Create a list of these easy-win topics and start creating Reverse Content Silos around them.

This is how you grow your site.

What’s Next?

If you read this entire post, you now have all the knowledge necessary to take your niche site from idea to reality.

So what’s next?

The next stage involves creating proper content, building backlinks, and getting consistent traffic to your site.

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