Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn commissions if you purchase something through the links below. Learn more.

This is the first post in a series that comprises my FREE niche site building course.

In order to build a successful niche site, you must understand what a niche site actually is and the first steps to get started.

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.

what is a niche site

Why Invest in Building Niche Sites?

When people ask me: “What do you do for a living, James?

I smile and tell them that I own a portfolio of niche websites.

In return, I either get a nervous laugh or a barrage of questions.

If pressed further I will add:

In my opinion, building and acquiring niche websites is one of the best places that you can park your money.

I usually lose most people after I say that.

Probably because it is so ingrained in the masses to believe the only solid investments are still physical real estate and the stock market.

On the off chance I happen to be talking to someone who is actually interested in making money online, they are typically more familiar with dropshipping, Amazon FBA, or cryptocurrency than they are with building niche sites.

While I’m a true believer in the phrase “to each their own”, I know from personal experience that the benefits of building niche sites far outweigh those of most other online business models.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Low Risk
  • High-Profit Margin
  • Low Overhead
  • Easy to Scale
  • Freedom (No Clients or Customers)
  • Resale Market is Extremely Liquid
  • No Need to Pay for Traffic

Contrary to what your favorite guru might be saying to sell their course, very few business models truly provide “passive income”.

Investing in niche sites is no different.

There’s a lot of work that takes place to build and maintain a site, but what this business model provides that most others don’t is time freedom.

Some of these perks include:

  • No clients or customers
  • No inventory to manage
  • No set schedule
  • No boss to answer to

The best part? By using my proven method, you can start a niche website for less than a nice meal out!

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.

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 affiliate sites.

🛠 Check out my recommended online marketing tools and software

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!

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 Generate Traffic

There are numerous different sources you can leverage to drive traffic to your niche site.

When starting out, I only focus my efforts on two traffic sources…

Organic Search

To generate organic search traffic from Google you will need to devise a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plan.

Doing proper SEO for a niche site takes time.

Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

There are some tricks I’ve learned that can speed up the process a bit, but you still need 6-12 months for your SEO efforts to really start generating significant buyer traffic.

I build all of my sites with a well-thought-out, long-term SEO game plan in place, with the understanding that it is going to be a while before I start to see the fruits of my labor.

Pinterest

In the meantime, I focus on an alternate source of free and immediate traffic- Pinterest.

With 335 million monthly viewers, Pinterest is as much a search engine as it is a social media platform.

If the niche makes sense, I make it my goal to get any new site generating some revenue with only Pinterest traffic.

You can then use this early revenue to freeroll the costs associated with content creation and your long-term SEO plan.

Essentially, by focusing on Pinterest traffic early on, you are de-risking the entire venture.

If you play your cards right, you will still make some profit while quickly scaling your site to $x,xxx – $xx,xxx per month.

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.

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.

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 the 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.

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.

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.

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”.

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 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.

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