About 9 months ago I started to build my very first niche site. It was exciting and had been something I wanted to start for a while.
Plus, I wanted diversify my income and the passive income from a niche site really appealed to me.
In my opinion, niche sites are a great way to monetize your hobbies…so that’s exactly what I did! Anyways, I bought the domain name and outlined 10 – 15 blog posts I wanted to write about. After traffic started picking up for those initial posts, I started writing more.
Today, I have about 35 or 40 posts on the site, but I haven’t done anything over the last month.
Overall, I think the experience was very enlightening. I learned a lot about SEO, writing, and just general website management.
What is a niche site?
So what is a niche site? A niche site is a website dedicated to one particular narrow market.
Niche sites make money primarily from affiliate marketing (and to a lesser extent, advertising and sponsored posts/partnerships).
Most of a niche site’s traffic will come from organic search results (i.e. Google). My niche site was primarily focused on product reviews and getting people to buy a particular product I discussed.
My goal in the beginning was to make $100 a month from my first site. Here are the results so far.
My niche site results
Currently, my niche site generates about 1,200 – 1,400 average daily page views. That’s about a 15% growth month over month.
In the last month, the site made $154.78, which is the third month in a row where I’ve made over $100.
I don’t want to jinx anything (*knock on wood*), but so far into January 2018, this niche site is on track for another month of $100+ completely passive income.
Overall, I’m happy with the results so far. There are a few ideas I have to increase the income of this particular niche site.
I think the most obvious is to try to get advertising partners. The niche is very focused and I’m sure I could double the site’s income with appropriate partners.
Anyways, I also wanted to take time for this post to really reflect on what I’ve learned. Niche sites are a great way to generate passive income as they don’t require much maintenance.
Here are 10 things I learned from building my first niche site.
1. Be patient with traffic
It takes some time to build traffic for a new site. It takes time for Google to discover that your website exits. Don’t refresh your site stats every two minutes or you’ll drive yourself insane!
Traffic growth is often exponential during the first few months of a new site before it eventually plateaus. Be patient and wait for the traffic to come. As long as you have maintained average SEO best practices, visitors will come!
2. Conversion rate is also very important
Also, keep in mind that making money through affiliate marketing is a function of both website traffic and conversion rate.
All the traffic in the world won’t matter if you’re targeting the wrong audience. A niche site can make money even if you get a few hundred views a day as long as the conversion rate is high.
3. Experiment around with different affiliate programs
Some affiliate programs work better than others. I tried one affiliate program for the first two months of the site. It got a decent amount of clicks per month, but it never converted.
When I switched to a similar affiliate program, the conversion rate increased substantially. I’m not sure why that was, but I suspect it was due to the new affiliate having a better designed website.
4. Amazon affiliate is a mixed bag
Amazon is the dominant online retailer and luckily they have an affiliate program. That’s the good news!
The bad news is that the affiliate income payout is very low! I’m averaging about 4.5% – 5% commission on most Amazon sales. However, there are no alternative affiliate programs for some of the products I promoted on the niche site.
The thing about Amazon affiliate marketing is that the conversion rate is very high (for obvious reasons-Amazon is a universally trusted online retailer), but the affiliate payout is low.
5. Don’t forget about advertising
In general, most niche sites are too small/niche to generate any meaningful advertising dollars. However, mine is in a larger market. As a result, I may be able to generate some dollars from advertisers.
Like I always say, it doesn’t hurt to ask! The worst they could say is no. And this is something I really want to try over the next few months.
6. Sell your own products
A niche site is also a great outlet to sell your own products. In this case, I created several eBooks and sold them on the site.
Once you have been around for a while, people may see your niche site as an “authority” site and begin to trust you. Selling your own products is great as the margins are much higher!
7. Build an email list
Building an email list is important and it’s admittedly something I need to work on. My niche site gets decent traffic, but I barely have any newsletter subscribers. But to my defense, I haven’t exactly been trying to get them!
I think that building a big newsletter should help monetize this site. Plus, I may even be able to sell advertising space in the newsletter if it gets big enough!
8. Keyword targeting is important
Keyword targeting is arguably one of the most important aspects of building a profitable niche site. I’ve read a lot about this subject and it’s both an art and a science.
Right now, I use the Google Keyword Planner tool and also google search results to help refine my keywords.
9. Build first and then refine the process
I’m a big believer in learning from experience…especially learning as you go. My first niche site wasn’t perfect and I’m sure no one knocked it out of the ballpark on their first try.
It’s far better to build the site first and get traffic running. After all, you can always go back and refine the site as you go!
10. Never give up
It took a while for the traffic on my niche site to come in. All the while, I was wondering if I had done anything horribly wrong. I didn’t even make my first affiliate sale until two or three months into the site’s existence.
However, I ever gave up. I pumped out content and reviews and eventually things took off. Be patient and don’t give up. People often give up right before things turn around!
Readers, do any of you have experience building niche sites too? What are some things you learned from that experience? I’d love to hear it in the comments!