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How many times have you thought about (or even started) building a niche site with dreams of making thousands of dollars in passive income each month?
If you’re like most people trying to make a living on the internet, the thought has probably crossed your mind at least once, if not thousands of times.
For me, this idea of the niche website is one of the most fascinating anomalies on the internet. It’s one of the hardest, yet stupidly easy things you can do online.
The steps to building a successful niche site that pulls in at least $500 a month are extremely straight forward, yet most people come at it from an angle of trying to game the system – they’ve lost before they even reached the starting line.
Sure, there are people out there who make hundreds of thousands of dollars off crappy sites and products – but most of them have some serious technical, spam, and SEO skills that let’s face it, we don’t have.
So we’ve gotta come up with a better way, you know, one that actually helps people.
Niche Site Video Tutorial:
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Niche Website Quick Start
This is the longest post I’ve written in a year. I go into detail about what to do and why to do it. Don’t have time for that? Here’s the 14 step, quick start, Cliff’s Notes version of my strategy for building a niche site. If you have questions about something, then quit being lazy and read the rest of the article.
Step #1: Write out as many niche ideas as you can, using your interests as a starting point.
Step #2: Narrow down niche based on the following criteria:
• Wide array of products you can review and discuss
• Higher price, lower volume
• Are there affiliate programs with good commissions?
• Are people currently making money?
• Could you write 100 articles on the topic?
Step #3: Setup your site using this tutorial
Step #4: Start creating content. Here’s a good outline to get you going:
• Write 5 articles reviewing 5 of the most popular items in your niche
• Write 3 in depth tutorials on your niche (How to ___)
• Write 3 list posts
• Repeat
Step #5: Sign up for affiliate programs relating to your new site and content
Step #6: Do keyword research to find 5-10 of the best key terms/products to try and rank for
Step #7: Install Yoast SEO for WordPress and do on site SEO for all posts and pages. Also review “The Bootstrapper’s Guide to SEO Link Building” Some of this borders on the spammy realm, but pick and choose what you like. I used a lot of these general concepts when I got going with my first niche site.
Step #8: Create a list of friends and colleagues to email and tell about your new site
Step #9: Setup social media for the site: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
Step #10: Sign up for HARO
Step #11: Make a list of all large blogs and syndicated publications you’d want to be featured on
Step #12: Start contacting previously listed blogs and websites offering guest posts or story ideas (here’s how to do it)
Step #13: Create a high quality pdf or email series to collect email addresses. Add to site.
Step #14: Repeat Steps 4 and 12, while continuing to build your social media channels and links for SEO.
There you have it, 14 steps to a niche website that will make you at least $500/month. Want to actually learn how to do this? Then keep reading Text Deliver Review
My First Niche Site
Ok in this for the long haul? Cool, grab some coffee or a beer and let’s get going with this. A few years ago a friend of mine and I started a niche site called HDR Software.
For those of you who don’t know HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is a process where you take 3 versions of the exact same photograph where one is over-exposed, one is under-exposed, and one is taken at normal exposure. The software then allows you to combine these images to take one perfectly exposed image.
Here’s an example:
This photo of the Diamante golf course in Cabo is a great example of HDR I’ve used on photography site
I’d already had a site based around this process, so it was a natural fit to jump into this market. For the first year we did very little paid SEO, wrote all of our own content, and really didn’t spend that much time working on it.
Within 6 months the site was making over $1k a month.
At it’s peak it was making closer to $3k/month. Things were great. We provided unbiased reviews of software, along with tips for HDR success, and were making good money in the process.
That’s when we started making mistakes.
We hired out two different SEO companies to do some link building for us – believing them when they said it was all hand built, non-spammy links. A month into working with both of them, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing when we looked at our link profiles – nothing but spam.
We canceled the accounts immediately – but the damage was done. A few months later the Google Penguin algorithm update happened, and our traffic dropped by about 75% overnight. The site still brings in sporadic revenue here and there, and with some attention, could certainly get back to where it was pre-penguin.
However the point of me telling you this is I know what works, and what doesn’t – both through my own experience, as well as that of close friends who have seen spectacular success, catastrophic failures, and many who just saw a whole lot of nothing when it comes to niche affiliate websites.
Today, I’m going to share with you, exactly how to build a successful niche affiliate website. More importantly, we’re going to do it in a way that would make your mom proud.
Crash Course: How Do You Make Money on Your Website?
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s talk real briefly about how we’re actually going to make money through this site. There are a lot of ways to make money on the internet, a few of the ones you’ll find on niche sites are:
• Affiliate Links
• Adsense Ads
• Other Paid Advertisements
• Paid Text Links
• Direct product sales
However for the purposes of this post, we’re solely going to focus on affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
When it comes to monetizing a niche site, affiliate links are the easiest way to get started.
What’s an affiliate link you may be wondering?
Glad you asked. Here’s the process in the simplest terms possible:
• You have a website
• Someone else has a product
• You get a special link to their product
• A reader clicks on the link and buys the product
• You get a commission
Simple as that!
However for as simple as it sounds, actually getting traffic and getting people to buy products is a much more difficult task that we’ll be covering in depth in this article.
Now that we’re on the same page though, lets jump into exactly how to select a niche, and more importantly how we’re going to select the specific products we’re going to promote.
How to Find and Test a Niche
I believe you can build a niche website around just about anything, assuming you’re passionate enough about the topic. The reason most people fail is because they choose a niche like “Swedish leather furniture” when they are nomadic and have absolutely no interest in what they’re writing about.
If you want to do this successfully, basically think of this new site like a blog. A blog where you have to write a LOT about one particular topic, and the content has to be really good.
If you don’t have a certain level of knowledge or interest in that topic, you’re going to get burnt out before you even make your first dollar. This is why niche selection is so important.
Action Item: Write out a list of every product, hobby, or interest you have that you might be able to build a site around.
Why? Because everyone always says they don’t have a good idea. I’m willing to bet if you get a list of 50-100 possible niches you’ll be in good shape.
Need a jumpstart, here are some from my brainstorm list:
• Tennis ball machines
• Islay scotch
• DSLR cameras
• golf balls
• tripods
• travel credit cards
• video editing software
• travel backpacks
• headphones
I could go on like that forever, as I’m sure you could too if you start thinking about it. Use this post to help with the brainstorm process if you get stuck on business ideas.
Now, with enough time, motivation, and passion, I think you could probably build a successful site out of just about any one of those niches I listed. But we don’t have all the time in the world, so we want to make sure we give ourselves the best shot at success possible.
How are we going to do that? By running our list of niches through a few key filters.
Action Item: Narrow down niche based on the following criteria:
High Price, Low Volume
I’d rather make a bunch of money off one sale, than a little money off a lot of sales.
This holds more true for e-commerce/dropshipping websites – but I look at it like this: if I have a low priced product I have to get maybe 5 or 10 times as many people to actually whip out their credit cards and buy something, but if I only have to convince one person to make a good commission – it’ll be easier to make money over the long term.
Could I write 100 articles about the topic?
My strategy is all about creating incredibly useful, shareable content – so if I can’t see myself writing 100 unique articles over the next couple years then there’s a good chance I’m not interested in it enough to invest the time and energy into the project.
Don’t get me wrong, maybe you’ll be able to, but for me, this one’s a deal breaker. Note: If you have some money to invest, you can hire this out as long as you’re diligent about the quality.
Are there affiliate programs (with good commissions)?
There are affiliate programs out there that will allow you to sell just about anything.
The question is, what are the commissions like? The whole “high price, low volume” doesn’t work if you still only get a 1% commission off the sale. I generally won’t get into any market with less than a 10% affiliate commission unless I have a really good reason. I also shoot for at least 25-30% with everything I do.
It’s worth noting you generally won’t find commissions this high with physical products, but if you have a few good products that you can recommend with higher commissions, it can help subsidize the rest of the products that may have lower commissions.
Are there currently people making money?
This can be a tough question to answer definitively, but here’s how I go about it.
Come up with 5-10 keywords that people might search for when looking for your product. Let’s say it’s DSLR cameras, in particular let’s use the Nikon D7200 as our example. I might search for: Nikon D7200 review, Nikon D7200 sale, adorama coupon code (a site that sells the camera), Nikon D7200 vs. D610.
I’ll then run those through the Google Keyword Tool or SEO Moz to see how much traffic they each get. In this case, “Nikon D7200 Review” gets 6500-10k searches per month.
Volume for the term “nikon d7200 review”
Note: Doing this will also provide you with a hundred other keywords that may be more attractive.
When I do a search for that (and all these other keywords), one site continually pops up: Kenrockwell.comThis just so happens to be one of my favorite photography sites – where all he does is review Nikon camera equipment.
Is he making money off the site? Yep. He even tells us he is at the bottom of every page.
Moreover, he says the site makes him enough for him and his family to live off of. This is the perfect example of an affiliate site done well. But, that’s just one guy.
Are other people making money?
Looking through some of the pages on the search results, there are other reviews with affiliate links in them, so I’ve gotta imagine that because there are so many people in this market reviewing this particular product, that people are making some decent money (especially if they are reviewing a bunch of other cameras and equipment as well).
Here’s my basic formula for determining if it’s a profitable niche: Buying Keyterm Traffic + Lots of reviews with affiliate links + High priced product with good affiliate commissions = Good chance people are making money.
There are much more scientific and in depth ways you can research this, but if you’re just starting out this can help you get a good idea.

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